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Gender Bias Exist in Fields of Math and Science: Women Lose Out

November 2, 2010

It’s not just math and science where women lose out, often having to choose between a family and career.  I have also worked in the field of education, where any man who deigns to join the educational ranks is worshiped like a superhero.  My neighbor, who is male, went from working as a parapro, never having his own classroom, AT ALL, to an administration position in our local school district, within two years, and before he had even finished his master’s degree.  I checked the job description, his first leadership role, and it required classroom teaching, but he was not held to the same standards in the hiring process as the local women, and he has been promoted ever since.  In fact, the majority of leadership roles in our school district have been filled with men, and having known their families intimately, I know that these men don’t sacrifice to have a family–they simply shift the burden to their wives.  Their wives are not happy, but the men are work so much they don’t seem to notice.  I, being the lowly, writer, hear the increasing frustration in their wives voices, see the men coming home with flowers frequently at first, then less frequently, more angrily. I  hear the women yelling more, at their kids, their neighbors, the family pets, and yet this pattern continues.

To say that this pattern only happens in math and science would mean that only certain professions are affected by gender bias, and that simply isn’t true–it’s just that these are the only fields studied:

Female respondents were less likely to be married or in long-term relationships than their male counterparts (77 percent of women compared to 91 percent of men), and significantly less likely to have children (53 percent of females versus 77 percent of males).

Ninety-eight percent of women who participated in the survey said they knew a female colleague who had left the field because of barriers to her professional success. One in three women cited barriers to having and raising children. Fifty percent of female scientists reported challenges with child-care support, and more than half experienced gender bias in the workplace.

Women in science are not alone. In law, finance, and many other fields women fight barriers and unequal access. A tiny 2.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and women make up only 16 percent of equity partners in large law firms.

…Shirley Malcolm, the head of education and human resources at AAAS, said it is no longer a question of convincing people that women can do the science (16 of 304 Nobel Laureates in the hard sciences in the last 103 years have been female), it is a question of whether work environments are made accessible to female scientists who traditionally face gender discrimination and often have a harder time balancing work and family.

I, myself, have left, in practical terms, the field of education after watching men promoted time and time again for simply walking into a room.  I prefer not to be limited in that way.  In the area of law, I tested, got into law schools, even received a full scholarship to Pepperdine, but I couldn’t stand the idea of always sitting behind the boys, and when you look at admission statistics, that’s what you would have found ten years ago.

While I have toyed with the idea of going to law school still, even at my “advanced age,” I still cringe at the thought of trying to balance the work/home life.  I have had to pretty much give up my work in order to raise my daughter, and adding in additional schooling to start over seems like a poor plan.  The brilliant part about writing is that I don’t have a boss, get to set my hours, and “flex time,” is already built in.  So far, not much impetus to change that–what other career can offer me that?


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