Gender Differences in the Choice of Studies and Profession
Now, there are still studies and professions in which the number of enrolled men or women stand out significantly. Simply taking a look at the faculties of engineering, nursing or teaching, it is verified that the percentage of students of both sexes is not evenly matched. According to the department of education during the 2015-2016, academic year, only one of every four students enrolled in engineering and architecture were females. For James Damore, who was fired from Google after spreading a manifesto in the company that questioned the ability of women, this representation gap would be justified because “their natural biological capabilities [of the programmers] do not allow it”.
In the ten pages of his document, the engineer argues that “men are more aggressive when it comes to achieving a certain status,” while, for the author, “women who try to feel a great anxiety.” Among all the reactions to his text, they highlight that of Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, who publicly expressed her disagreement with Damore in justifying her words under “freedom of expression.” In an article for Fortune, Wojcicki confesses that the effects of the news reached her family nucleus. “My daughter asked me: ‘Mom, is it true that there are biological reasons why there are fewer women in technology and managerial positions?” A report by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the percentage of women enrolled in computer science has increased since 1970 to reach 37% in 1983. They also talk about it in the Washington Post, and even in a 1967 article in the Cosmopolitan magazine. Entitled the girls of computers. In the report, typical of that magazine, the scientist Grace Hopper said that programming “is like planning a dinner,” “you have to plan everything in advance so that it is ready when you need it.” But they were not the only pioneering programmers. Along with a series of feminine referents in the sector stand out the so-called “ENIAC girls,” a group of six computer scientists in charge of calculating ballistic trajectories during the Second World War.
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In my opinion, this could be explained by the demographic factors of the moment, where men went to war and women were in charge of these tasks. This shows that it is not that women have never been interested. If they have had access, they have done it and they have taken care of those tasks. To try to reverse the trend, groups like Tech and ladies emerge, working with Google to promote greater participation and visibility for women in the sector. To what is due? Are there sexist components in our social context when choosing studies or the profession? The experts who have participated on gender, studies, and professions have reflected on these issues and have proposed some co-education activities that can facilitate a choice of studies and professions, leaving aside gender stereotypes. The percentage of men enrolled in technical careers, such as computer science, is considerably higher than that of women, while in the rest of the branches of knowledge the percentage of female students increases, especially in health sciences that includes medical studies, psychology, nursing, etc. The main source of inequality appears in the labor market, since women have the highest percentages of temporary employment, precariousness, salary inequality, difficulties in accessing and promoting employment, occupying positions of responsibility and reconciling work life, personal, and family. Despite the obvious advantages, many girls do not even consider a career in Information Technologies and Communication.
This situation is due to more than one factor; that goes from the education that parents give their daughters, to the lack of information among students, teachers, and parents of what a career in IT can offer. Female gender in the software industry U.S gender data from Jan 2014 shows that the largest, and most emblematic computer companies published their Diversity Reports. In the case of Google, only 3 of every 10 employees are women. The low percentage of Hispanics and African-Americans is also very relevant. The need for computer engineers and software developers in the U.S. is also clear. This deficit of specialists, in women and men, has alerted the U.S. government, and the big software industries; which have begun to take action in this regard. The emerging technologies are those scientific branches that are in full development and that promise that in the immediate future, within a few years, they will make a transcendental change in our lives. With IT, definitely humanity has already changed with computers and the internet. What about in biotechnology? It is the domain of genes and the symbiosis between living beings and machines. Imagine simply taking advantage of sunlight and water from the seas with genetically modified plants. So, Information Technology is just the prelude to what it holds. Reason enough to motivate our daughters and sons so that they do not stop preparing for the future.
The careers that have more future labor are those related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. This is known as STEM and the girls are reluctant to take them. A deep-rooted combination of stereotypes, expectations of parents, lack of feminine referents, distrust of mathematics, and an inconspicuous social utility lead university students to enroll mostly in the health disciplines, the Humanities, or the Social and Legal Sciences. At present, the sexist perspective still weighs in the choice of professional studies. It seems that the causes can be very varied, but the experts point out the cultural processes that are based on stereotypes as a determining point. Stereotyping is arbitrarily assigning certain habits, skills, and expectations to different human groups on the basis of belonging to a group, without taking into account the individual attributes and assuming that what is attributed to the group is true. In this way, the stereotypes assigned to women predispose them to dedicate themselves to attention and service to others, considering that technical careers fall outside this profile, and male stereotypes predispose children to jobs. linked with activity, courage, power, competitiveness, aptitude for science, etc.
These stereotypes are transmitted from childhood through the process of socialization through differentiated stimuli (games, colors, ways of behaving and addressing the boy or girl, etc.) and education (textbooks, teachers, etc.). To avoid this, experts propose to work in depth coeducation with educational measures that promote real and effective equality between men and women, using books and educational materials that promote equitable treatment, making a non-sexist use of the center’s spaces, distributing Equally the tasks of responsibility and representation, encourage academic and professional guidance without discrimination, etc. To achieve this, the teaching staff becomes a fundamental element, since the mixed school is often confused with the coeducational school. The most important challenge faced by teacher training bringing about an improvement in the education received by girls and boys in schools is the lack of conscience regarding the problem of sexist discrimination. Finally. Gender segregation is also being seen across other occupations. According to pew research the segregation of men and women across workplaces is somewhat established in differences in the occupations held by men and women. However not all of this is sad, I would like to finish up this research paper by talking about seven women that marked a path in Computer Science. Ada Lovelace was the first programmer in history (1815-1852). A lover of mathematics and science, she worked with Charles Babbage, father of computers. As stated in her notes, she described a programming language whose contributions marked precedents in computing. The United States created a language on the same subject that she named Ada in her honor. Hedy Lamarr, precursor of wifi and Bluetooth, who was one of the most seductive girls on the big screen in Hollywood, to the point of being considered “the most beautiful woman in Europe” by director Max Reinhardt, helped invent technology on which modern wifi is based. While working with avant-garde composer George Antheil, Lamarr patented an early version of spread spectrum communication, which is part of the foundation of wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
She and Antheil came up with the idea of helping create an unbreakable code for submarines during the time of World War II, but the broad application of their invention was not recognized until later. Jude Milhon, creator of cyberpunk, better known on the web by her pseudonym St. Jude, was a famous hacker and defender of personal rights on the Internet. She was the author of the term cyberpunk, and founding member of the group with the same name. She was a staunch defender of the pleasure of messing with technology at will, and encouraged women to access the Internet not out of necessity but by personal choice. At a time when the network was mostly occupied by men, she uttered the famous phrase “girls need modems!”. In a message she sent in 1999, she wrote: “Perhaps women are not good at physical struggle, but we certainly excel in the use of the keyboard.” We should understand the network as the school of life to which many of us did not Never go, expose ourselves and get rid of the fear of not being nice enough, educated enough, strong enough, cute enough, smart enough or whatever”. Evelyn Berezin mother of text processors in 1953, while working at the Underwood Company, she created what is considered the first office computer. Later, she changed her company and in Tele register she developed the first computerized flight reservation system in real time. But her biggest contribution may be an idea he had in 1968, when she came up with the idea of creating a program to create and manage texts that could help secretaries in the performance of their work. Lynn Conway, pioneer of microelectronic chips the work that she developed at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in the 1970s has had a major impact on the design and development of chips for decades around the world. Many companies base their developments on their ideas and many designers have studied with the book Introduction to VLSI systems of which they are coauthors. But her story is bittersweet because Conway suffered a strong rejection at the beginning of her career, which caused her dismissal from IBM in the late 60s. The reason was her process of sex change. Conway was born in a man’s body with which she never felt identified, and in 1967 he began a treatment to remedy it. The rejection was fulminant, and she lost her job. After completing the transition, she reinvented herself as a programmer with her name, and started again from zero.
Frances E. Allen, pioneer in the automation of parallel tasks Winner of the Turing prize, named after the father of computer science, Frances Allen laid the theoretical and practical foundations of automatic optimization techniques with compilers, the part of a computer that translates the instructions of a program into a code understandable by the machine. She defined techniques that are still used today and that have helped to increase the efficiency of the machines. In her opinion, “women will be interested in computing once it is essentially relevant to society”. Grace Murray Hopper, developer of the first compiler Recognized as Amazing Grace, is considered to be the precursor of the COBOL language, a universal and unprecedented programming language at the time capable of being used by any computer. Mathematical and military scientist with admiral rank in the US Army, was very influential in the Armed Forces and in many companies, dominated overwhelmingly by men. To conclude I would say that although it is a mostly male territory, computer science is also a women’s thing. They marked part of the path of a science that determines to a large extent our day to day.
- Burke, Elaine. “The Computer Girls: 1967 Cosmo Article on Women in Tech.” Silicon Republic, 18 Aug. 2015, www.siliconrepublic.com/people/women-in-technology-the-computer-girls-cosmopolitan.
- “Degrees in Computer and Information Sciences Conferred by Degree-Granting Institutions, by Level of Degree and Sex of Student: 1970-71 through 2010-11.” National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a Part of the U.S. Department of Education, nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_349.asp.
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- Parker, Kim. “Women in Majority-Male Workplaces Report Higher Rates of Gender Discrimination.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 7 Mar. 2018, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/07/women-in-majority-male-workplaces-report-higher-rates-of-gender-discrimination/.
- wojcicki, Susan. “Read YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s Response to the Controversial Google Anti-Diversity Memo.” Fortune, 9 Aug. 2017, fortune.com/2017/08/09/google-diversity-memo-wojcicki/.