Sep 1, 2020 in Analysis

Why few women become Scientists and Engineers

Over the years, there have been several affirmative actions to fight for the rights of women. In essence, women have faced a lot of sidelining in the society as compared to men. Women have never been viewed as achievers in the society in comparison to men. Therefore, over the years, women have lacked fair representation in the job market, top careers, politics and in the entertainment scenes. The view has persisted for a long time and thanks to the innumerable affirmative actions that have brought significant change in the representation of women in various sectors. In the last few decades, the representation of women has considerably increased in the different areas mentioned above. It is, however, worth noting that there are still sectors that are significantly lagging behind in equal representation of women. The reasons behind the fewer women representation remain relatively undefined. The blames still keep shifting from one group of people to the other. One of the most affected areas by this inequality is the career fields of science and engineering. There are relatively very few women who are scientists and engineers. This trend is not only observable in the United States but also in other countries globally. The trend has raised concerns causing many researchers to launch investigations seeking to establish the reasons that underlie the small statistic of women in these careers. The following paper is a discussion that aims to explain why so few women are becoming scientists and engineers.

The society has often placed a gender stereotype on the female sex right from birth. There is a way the social norm perceives a man and woman and the things they should associate with. Women are birthed into a world filled with stereotypes and attitudes that are attributed to them that they learn to embrace because it is the social norm. The social norm also has stereotypes and traits that they associate with men. Psychologists have revealed that the definition of gender occurs in the life of a child as they grow up and embrace the perceptions and attitudes that the society uses to define them. For instance, the perception that pink color is for girls and that blue is for men is an impression that people get born, and they find existing. They, therefore, pick the same attitudes and make them part of their lives. This aspect contributes to the psychological attributes and beliefs that are instilled in a person. From a young age, boys are bought chemical and physical toys while girls are given dolls. In most of the cultural set ups, boys mostly spend time with their fathers making television sets and mending bulb sockets in the house while girls engage with their mothers in the kitchen and in doing laundry. This norm sets into the mind of women, and as they grow up, they accept who the society defines them. This social norm has caused most ladies not to venture in scientific and engineering courses because they believe, they are not birthed for these courses. Psychologists have proven beyond doubt that people quickly become what they are continually told they are than who they believe they are.

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Another reason that has contributed to fewer women becoming scientists and engineers is the unrecognized women talent in these fields and the overwhelming male prejudice. The unrecognition of female talent has led to women working in particular and not well-regarded jobs in the science and engineering world. In the United Kingdom, for example, only 13 percent of workers in the Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) sector are women. This statistic translated to one woman among every nine men. History has produced evidence of women who made a lot of significant scientific innovations who were not accredited instead the credit was given to the male counterparts. An example is Marie Curie who was a physicist woman who contributed to the birth of nuclear science. She discovered two important chemical elements which are polonium and radium. Curie faced much opposition from her male counterparts who wanted to take the credit. This opposition caused her not get the full financial proceeds for her work. Her first recognition came later when she won two Nobel prizes for her radioactivity and pioneering work. It took long before her recognition came to light compared to the appreciation of her fellow male scientists. When one does a web search to find out the most famous scientists and their innovations, one will find only male scientists and their contributions. Rarely are women scientist appreciated and given the same lime light as the male scientists. The lack of recognition has also contributed a lot to discouraging women who want to pursue careers related to science and technology because there are no well documented and recognized female scientists. Males have dominated this industry for a long time. Most women who have become scientists and engineers have witnessed to the fact that they are caused to work as assistants to their male colleagues because of the pure belief that they cannot handle science effectively. Most ladies have served as lab assistants and spectators in the various experiments and procedure. One woman noted that she was expected to do all the office house work. Women also serve as secretaries, receptionists and librarians in these fields. It is worth noting that most of these women do not serve in superior and significant roles in these science and engineering.

Women who are either scientists or engineers are often paid less than men. This marginalization in terms of pay is often discouraging and dictates the less number of women who are becoming scientists and engineers. The employers discourage the upcoming women scientists when they observe the less pay that women receive in comparison to men yet they meet the same job requirement and responsibilities. Moreover, women get fewer awards compared to the males. Certain institutions even offer women little lab and office space as the ones that they offer to men. A research conducted by the MIT committee revealed that women in these career fields receive less funds for their research project compared to the fund that are given to men. Currently, women who develop software are paid 80%of the amount that men software developers are paid. This difference in pay really discourages considering the fact that the software developed by women also serve the same purpose and sometimes better that the software developed by men in this sector. The difference in salaries also features in events where women are not given the opportunity to serve in superior jobs that pay better. For instance, in an interview to recruit a lab manager, most employers would go for males and allow the female counterparts to be assistants. By being the assistants, their salary is often less than the manager. These career fields have therefore become relatively unrewarding to women compared to men. Fewer women have, therefore, undertaken to pursue other careers in which equality is advocated for. A research published by Yale university researchers in the summer of 2013 revealed that biologists, physicists and chemists are more likely to view young male scientists a more favorable way than female scientists. The research study involved the presentation of two summaries of accomplishments of two imaginary people in which one was to a male and the other a male. These documents were presented to professors at eight top research institutions. The results of the study showed that six professors would willingly employ the male candidate rather than the female candidate yet they have the same qualification. The research results also revealed that if these professors were to offer the job to the female counter part that they would give a salary that $4000 less than the salary that they world offer the male counterparts. The most astounding aspect of this research results is the fact that women scientists showed the same level of biasness just as the male scientists. It is discouraging to tirelessly carry out the same responsibility with a counterpart only for them to be paid higher. Most women have therefore considered science and engineering as careers with dead ends.

A majority of culture puts the responsibility of child care entirely on the mother causing challenges for women who need time in these demanding career fields. Women also loose chances in science and engineering careers because the culture dictates that they should spend time taking care of the children and the household. Different cultures vary in the way that they view women in the science and engineering fields. As much as there is a very low statistic of women in these fields there are cultures that are worse than the other. For instance, in America, there are few women scientist and engineers but it cannot compare to the United Kingdom. America is more liberal and less discriminatory than the United Kingdom. America has over the years developed a lot of policies that discourage discrimination and that give women an opportunity to serve in the same positions as men America has gone ahead in taking care of the interest of women employees especially with regard to maternal leaves and care. The American culture has made a lot of strides in placing women in equal position as men. The responsibility of childcare in the American culture is viewed as a responsibility of both the man and the woman rather than of the woman alone. This culture has made it easier for women to make it in science and engineering in the United States compared to other countries though the statistics is still pretty low.  The culture in the United Kingdom, Asia, and Africa are a little tilted with favor towards the men. Women in these cultures are believed to be homecare individuals who should not engage in complex and time demanding careers. In essence, these cultures do not find suitability of women in the science and engineering fields. They tie the female gender with house chores and child care. The attitude has denied a lot of women the opportunity to launch into these careers hence the small numbers. These cultures not only instill in their women a permanent attitude that science and engineering are not careers which they can pursue but they cause the women to be unable to balance between motherhood responsibilities and work demands. Women are left alone to do parenting and therefore it is an uphill task to balance these responsibilities with a career field that demands research time and lab hours.  Finally such cultures make it hard for employers to take employ women to work in the above fields. Employers are already convinced that these women are unable to fully dedicate their time to their jobs. Culture is, therefore, an important determinant of the less representation of women in science and engineering fields.

The academic achievement of women in science and engineering has also been relatively low as less significant compared to men. In the United States, for example, only a fifth of the Physics PHD degrees are awarded to woman.  It is worth noting that among these women awarded degrees, only half of them are citizens of the United States. Among the professors of physics in America only approximately 14% are women. In elementary classes, it has been discovered that girls and boys perform equally in scientific courses. In high school, however, as these courses become a little more difficult, the numbers change and ladies begin to perform poorly. On a national scope women are rewarded with over 60% of the degree certificates in the country. According to a survey conducted by the New York Times, only 20% of these degrees are of computer science, physics and engineering. These statistics still indicate that the academic achievement of women in science and engineering is relatively low. It is, however, important to admit that these statistics have considerably improved over the years; giving women more opportunities and chances in to be scientists and engineers.

There are various strategies that can be put in place to ensure positive prospects of women in working environments and to counter some of the barriers. The most instrumental; body that can cause changes in the work environment for women is the government. The government of the United States, for instance, can undertake to introduce policies that enhance equal treatment at work especially in terms of pay. A legislated policy that will specifically indicate that women and men should be paid the same amount of money as men in the science and engineering fields will prove quite helpful. Such a policy would greatly discourage exploitation of women in such fields. Delivery of service without adequate pay equals exploitation. The equal employment act should also be tailored and modifies to fit the specific environments where equal employment is not advocated for. Men and women who have the same level of qualification ought to be given the same chances in employment. This act should be tailored and directed to employers in the science and engineering career fields. Employers should also be caused to understand the role of mothers in the society and provide them with a work schedule that befits them. A woman should not be caused to choose between their families and their career. Employers and the women employee can have meetings and craft the best maternity and childcare leaves that are beneficial both to the women and to the employers. Encouraging talent and skills for all genders is also key. The STEM body should ensure that potential is not locked whether it comes from a man or a woman. The government should put laws that ensures severe punishment against employers who show gender discrimination in work places.

In conclusion, it is sufficiently evident that women are less represented in the field of science and engineering. The less representation has received contribution from the women themselves, employers, professors and the society at large. Culture has proven to be a powerful determinant of the achievements that people make in the society. Stereotypes that are more prevalent in the society determine the decisions that individuals make. It is, however, important to appreciate that most of the negative stereotypes are changing with time. Moreover, women are getting to pursue scientific courses more than before. Over time, as concerns continue to rise over the less representation of women in these fields, an improvement will be inevitable.

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