What do the names Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and most well-known inventors have in common? Other than the fact that they all made major contributions that changed the way we live, they are all male. I have noticed that all throughout high school I was taught about these scientists and inventors who changed the world yet I can’t remember one instance in which I was taught about the women who did the same. The gender bias and sexism in past history that kept women from gaining recognition for their work is still alive today.
According to a new study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), men are reluctant to believe that gender bias in STEM workplaces exists. Men didn’t find it convincing when shown evidence of this bias being present in almost all work places nor did they find the importance of it. The authors of this study write: “How can we successfully broaden the participation of women in STEM when the very research underscoring the need for this initiative is less valued by the majority group who dominate and maintain the culture of STEM?”
In the article Double Jeopardy: Gender Bias Against Women of Color in Science, they state that there are four patterns in which gender bias occurs in STEM workplaces: “Prove-It-Again” states women are seen as less competent than men which results as women having to work harder to prove that they are intellectually capable; “Tightrope” says that women have to balance between being seen as too feminine to be capable or too masculine to be socially pleasing; “Maternal Wall”, the strongest form of bias, makes a woman seem less committed to her job after having children, and “Tug-of-War”, where gender bias perpetrates women versus women conflict. In addition to this gender bias, women of color have reported having to confront negative racial stereotypes- women of color have to struggle with gender bias and racial bias in the work place, making it a double jeopardy.
In an article written by PBS, they state “we need to set a goal of getting more women “in the door” of male-dominated, prestigious, and high-paying fields, even if doing so requires that women act more like men”. Although I understand what they were trying to say I have to disagree, stating that women should act like men in order to get a job perpetrates the idea that men are more competent and that women can only work in a certain field depending on how masculine they are. Women should be accepted into the any field regardless of whether or not they are more feminine.
I have seen many of those who work in STEM work places comment on the fact that there are hardly any women going into science careers and it makes me wonder how they can make these comments while simultaneously discouraging women with these gender biases.
Instead of commenting on the lack of women in science and math related fields we should focus on eliminating all traditional ideals that are contributing to the demotivation of women to pursue STEM careers.