In technical careers, there is a predominance of men. Why might this be the case and how important are gender roles in choosing what to study?
In technical careers, there is a predominance of men. Why might this be the case and how important are gender roles in choosing what to study?.
Stereotypes condition our lives. From our earliest childhood, we have been raised to follow different mandates related to many aspects: social, sentimental, and, of course, those of education and work. For this reason, we can see some of the consequences of these gender roles.
One of them may be the lack of women in technical careers. According to a report conducted by the Flexible Professional in the Knowledge Society, there is a significant number of women in areas such as Education, Health and Humanities, with a predominance of approximately 80%.
However, when we approach Physics, Mathematics, Engineering or Science, this number is not even close to 30%. For this very reason, we must think about what has happened to make so few women interested in this type of training and how this trend can be modified over the years.
Women and College Careers
The first thing to mention is that technical careers encompass a set of acquired knowledge, such as chemistry, physics, scientific research, or computer science. All of these are, historically, in low demand by women… although they are not to blame.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in the United States, only 18% of women graduate in the latter computer-related field. Despite the high labor supply, where universities around the world are making efforts to recruit women, the trend seems to be slowly increasing in the short term.
For example, in the case of Argentina, we saw that the Ministry of Education launched a plan known as "Programando Futuro 2020," to encourage a greater presence of women in technical institutions. This serves for secondary education, where, according to 2019 surveys, just over 233 women were part of the 690,000 students in these institutions in the country.
The inequality of women's participation is alarming and occurs throughout the world, with very broad disciplines. For example, in high school, the Electromechanics and Electronics/Energy specialty has only 12% female preference, against 88% of men. This is due to the fact that jobs derived from these orientations have always been associated with men, as is the case with mechanical workshops or electricians.
Since there are not many references that break gender roles, women internalize that this profession is exclusive to men. Therefore, they tend to think that the subsequent career will not have a job insertion for them, so they may feel that studying this career will be a "waste of time" since they will not be able to get a job later on.
In fact, some secondary schools do not even accept female students. Since few women are interested in attending technical schools, some directors decide to prohibit the enrollment of women in the school altogether. As a result, many technical schools are male-only in order to achieve gender exclusivity.
All these stereotypes only exclude those women interested in learning a technical discipline, in which there is a wide labor supply. We must understand that the interest in a certain area of study is always related to culture and to the possible references that we know in the stages of our life.
Thus, if a boy has a father who is an electrician and is a fan of automobiles, it is likely that he will also be passionate about this area and decide to study a technical career. However, if the woman has some attachment to this area of study, but does not find a referent, she may abandon her dreams and choose another university career.
Therefore, if we want to start having more women who can approach disciplines such as Chemistry, Physics, Electricity, or Mechanics, we will have to generate private and state proposals to overcome gender stereotypes, with the aim of attacking the root of prejudice and that, little by little, more women enroll in technical schools and universities.
As time goes by, new generations of girls may find female role models that show that studying a technical career is entirely possible, as there is a wide variety of jobs, even though demand is currently low. We can change the world if we overcome stereotypes!