Since the times when science, technology, and engineering appeared, women made their contribution to its development. American Feminist Movement in the 1960s-70s gave rise to new researches and studies in this field. The scientists began to investigate the participation of women in the development of science and other spheres to which women had restricted access. Before that movement, people forgot about the female part in mostly male professions. It was a common phenomenon that women almost did not take part in the growth and improvement of engineering and technology. Today, females have the greatest admission to male-dominated spheres and can take advantage of new specializations and jobs. Nevertheless, according to Hill, Corbett and Rose, “the number of women in science and engineering is growing, yet men continue to outnumber women, especially at the upper levels of these professions”. Though women have made great progress in such spheres as medicine, law, economics and management, there are still so few females working in science and engineering because of social influence, race discrimination, and gender diversity.
First, there are a few women in science because of social influence. Though many developed countries eradicated inequality and discrimination, women still feel some pressure and disregard toward them. Almost every girl has the possibility to study at the university; however, the level of female students, pursuing science and engineering majors in colleges and universities, is much lower than that of male students. Thus, in engineering, “women earn less than 20 percent of undergraduate and graduate degrees”. Even if a girl wants to study, for instance, biological or computer science, she is afraid of being rejected while applying for a job. Bias against females at workplaces and in the educational establishments has existed too long, and it is not so easy to extirpate it in a short period. Besides, science and engineering were always male’s occupations; thus, women experience great difficulties in these fields. Moreover, men are considered to be more intelligent and resourceful than women, although, in fact, it is not true. In spite of all these details, many women work in science “because they enjoy it”. Only after several years of their work, females notice that they were discriminated. Men did not admit them to the important meetings and projects, and they got much lower salaries than males. The question arises: why do they do nothing to change it? The experts distinguish two kinds of women’s approaches to such attitude toward them. First, they deny everything and pretend to be ignorant of the problem. Second, they “make loud noises” that are not heard or received. Thus, women create the current situation themselves, unsuspectingly of their actions. They form the social influence by ignoring the problem and making no attempts to transform the established atmosphere. There is also a different kind of women who tell that they do not want to be seen as the women but as the scientists (or engineers). Such women pretend to be with men and do not support other female’s complaints about discrimination, sexual harassment, dissimilarity in salaries or unequal attitude toward them. Therefore, they help to create and promote the current way of treatment in their societies.
Another example of social influence is the impact of the girls’ parents and teachers. Several researches were conducted, which showed that girls are more likely to succeed in mathematics when their parents and tutors tell them that “their intelligence can expand with experience and learning”. Otherwise, girls do not tend to study math in the future and as a result, cannot become engineers or technologists. Moreover, negative stereotypes and prejudices about girl’s intelligence and skills can also make them study less than boys. It depends on the teacher and academic environment whether a girl will study well or not. If a teacher encourages girls and tells that their abilities are equal to the abilities of boys, the girls are engaged in studying better to prove to everyone that they are more intelligent. However, if a teacher always claims that boys are smarter than girls, the female’s progress in studies will be poor, and the possibility that they will become scientists will be too small.
Then, historical context means a lot in the formation of social impact and stereotypes. It is well known that women were always discriminated in the world of men. They were not allowed to study in the universities and hold high positions at work. Moreover, they did not know that there existed female scientists because this information was written out of the books and historical periodicals. Besides, academic career requires much time for studying and development, and most of the married women cannot dedicate their lives to science since they want to have children and carry about their families. Thus, it is another reason for women to avoid working in the sphere of science and engineering.
Men often think that woman cannot work as scientists because they talk too much and are not so intelligent. For instance, in her article “Why Are There Still so Few Women in Science?,” Eileen Pollack writes about a student, who was the only girl in her physics class and who narrates that her male classmates tell , “You’re a girl. Girls can’t do physics.” The stereotype that girls are too talkative and less gifted in male studies is a big obstacle in women’s way to the scientific career. However, they often create the stereotypes themselves. In fact, different studies showed that there is no significant biological diversity between men and women that could prevent women from being as successful in exact sciences as men. Therefore, girls and women need to prove males that they can succeed in a scientific career as well.
The problem of racial and cultural discrimination influences women’s participation in scientific and engineering occupations. For instance, in 2004, African Americans earned 4.5 percent of engineering doctorates, and women got the majority of them. Today, minority women still face the issue of racism and sexism at workplaces. “According to research carried out by Donna Nelson of the University of Oklahoma, even in 2012 there are only four black female tenure-track physics professors employed at the top 100 research universities”. However, another question arises: why is the situation with black women so difficult? There are several answers. First, everything begins at school, when minority girls are pressed by their classmates and cannot study well in order to look less intelligent than others. Second, many colored girls are from families with lower income and they cannot afford studying in the university. Third, the stereotypes about black people impact girls as well. They are not confident in their abilities and skills and they also believe that colored people are not as intelligent as the whites are. Moreover, the historical context has played one of the major roles in formation of these prejudices. Formerly, black people were serfs, and other races were also discriminated in many countries. Today, the situation is different, but the history is not forgotten, and some individuals still tend to consider those who are of another race incompetent. Thus, the problem of racial discrimination is closely connected to the issue of stereotypes and prejudices based on the historical facts.
Women often cannot work as scientists or engineers because of gender diversity. According to the recent research, in 2010, science and engineering workforce of the USA consisted of “51 percent of white male, 18 percent of white female, 13 percent of Asian male, 5 percent of Asian female, 4 percent of Hispanic male, 3 percent of black male, 2 percent of black female, 2 percent of Hispanic female, 1 percent of other male, and 1 percent of other female”. Thus, one can observe that the whole number of women working in science is just 28 percent, and it is not much. However, the reasons of such difference are obvious. Prejudices, stereotypes, and social environment are the causes of gender diversity at work. First, male work models are wide spread all around the world, and women are afraid to begin their scientific career because of men’s predominance in that sphere. Second, since their childhood, girls are told that they should not be interested in technologies because it is a boy’s occupation. Thus, the stereotypes are originated from the family and attitude toward science. If both parents are engineers or scientists, their daughters are more likely to continue their careers and work in the same sphere than those girls whose parents are less-educated.
Another essential reason for male not willing to accept females at scientific work is pregnancy and maternity leave. They think that a woman may cause many problems since she decides to have a child. She will have less time for work and more time for breast-feeding and other issues connected with a baby. Thus, men consider women to be good mothers and bad scientists. Women have to stay at home and keep the family hearth instead of building the scientific career. Moreover, if a male employer hires a woman, his decision will be discussed by his male colleagues, and he may feel pressure and reproach for his choice. Besides, if a woman shows higher level of knowledge than men, she will face many troubles as well. Every day, such women need to prove their co-workers that they are as competent as men. Not every woman sustains such pressure; therefore, many women decide to stop their engineering career or even avoid beginning it. Consequently, gender diversity is nothing more than a cultural and international stereotype, which struck its roots into the system of workforce and competences.
Strategies And Recommendations For The Improvement Of Future Opportunities
If women want to succeed in science and engineering career in the future, they need to act immediately. The first recommendation is for the parents and teachers. They should treat girls and boys equally and should not tell that boys are smarter than girls. Even if a girl makes some mistakes in math or biology but she wants to learn it, the aim of every teacher is to assist her in her aspiration and not to dissuade her. Next, education and training should be available for every woman in every country. Although the situation is stable in the developed countries, discrimination still exists in the developing and poor societies. The aim of every culture is to provide women with free and equivalent access to education and training in science and technology and strengthen the laws about equal rights and liberties. In addition, government “should develop and implement science and technology strategies and programs that involve women”. Moreover, more men and women should comprehend the ethics of science and educate other people to be loyal and humane regarding the females.
Another significant step is to spread information about women’s achievements in science and technologies. For instance, young girls should know that Socrates’ mother, Phaenarete, was a mathematician, or Grace Murray Hopper was an inventor of COBOL (an early major computer language). There are many other examples of female success in science; however, they are known less than the stories of male achievements. If people hear about women’s progress, they would not believe that men are smarter than women.
The teachers should encourage girls to develop their spatial skills. Not only boys but also girls should be involved to the games with construction sets and small details, working with their hands. As a result, the girls will show greater interest to math and exact sciences, as well as technologies, and will be more likely to learn about careers in these fields. Moreover, high schools and colleges should encourage girls to choose math and engineering classes as their majors. The instructors should explain students that studying these majors will help them to have greater choice of future careers.
Colleges and universities should attract and recruit more female students. Their aim is to make high schools promote information about the science and engineering majors they offer and help the girls to choose what they want to study. Besides, female teachers should be encouraged to work in the educational establishments to show the example for the girls that they are welcomed there. In addition, schools and colleges should eradicate stereotypes from the studying process and explain students that they are just prejudices but not the strict truth.
For many years, women have faced difficulties while applying for a job. Though they achieved great success in such spheres as law, medicine, and business, science and engineering are still not so popular among women. The reasons of the fact that only several females choose these spheres for their careers are social influence, gender diversity, and race discrimination. The major cause of all these issues is a stereotype. People used to live in male-dominating societies; historical books narrate stories about male achievements and progress. Thus, the lack of information about females in science and technologies causes some confusion among men and women. Men are sure that they are more intelligent and skilled, while women do not agree and try to prove their rightness by different movements and protests. However, all their efforts are ignored since the number of women participating in the movements is too small. Nevertheless, the problem can be solved internationally. Every society should provide free access to scientific studies for every girl and promote female role models in technology and science. Moreover, parents and caregivers should explain their children that there is no difference in intellectual development of girls and boys. Girls can teach exact studies as successful as boys. Besides, they can also build their scientific careers and be not afraid of making some mistakes. Positive treatment of daughters in families and female students in colleges will stimulate girls to apply for engineering career. However, till people live in the societies with well-established cultures where parents and teachers tell the girls that math is a boy’s subject and that if they succeed in physics, no one would be friends with them, the situation will not change. Thus, every person should begin changing his/her personal mind and perception to make some attempts to admit women to scientific and engineering career. If people change the culture, all the stereotypes will vanish, and the females will get more possibilities for their development.