20 May 2008

A Woman's Right to Choose: No Means No!

Women are choosing their careers with a freedom like never before, and with their eyes wide open. Female students and professionals are refusing to allow academic bullies such as Donna Shalala, Nancy Hopkins, or Liz Spelke to tell them what they can do with their lives. Because, no means no!
Women make up almost half of today's workforce, yet hold just a fraction of the jobs in certain high-earning, high-qualification fields. They constitute 20 percent of the nation's engineers, fewer than one-third of chemists, and only about a quarter of computer and math professionals.

...A few years ago, Joshua Rosenbloom, an economist at the University of Kansas, became intrigued by a new campaign by the National Science Foundation to root out what it saw as pervasive gender discrimination in science and engineering. The agency was spending $19 million a year to encourage mentoring programs, gender-bias workshops, and cooperative work environments.

...Rosenbloom surveyed hundreds of professionals in information technology, a career in which women are significantly underrepresented. He also surveyed hundreds in comparable careers more evenly balanced between men and women. The study examined work and family history, educational background, and vocational interests.

The results were striking...In general, Rosenbloom's study found, men and women who enjoyed the explicit manipulation of tools or machines were more likely to choose IT careers - and it was mostly men who scored high in this area. Meanwhile, people who enjoyed working with others were less likely to choose IT careers. Women, on average, were more likely to score high in this arena...Personal preference, Rosenbloom and his group concluded, was the single largest determinative factor in whether women went into IT. They calculated that preference accounted for about two-thirds of the gender imbalance in the field.

...[In a different study starting] more than 30 years ago, the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth began following nearly 2,000 mathematically gifted adolescents, boys and girls, tracking their education and careers in ensuing decades. (It has since been expanded to 5,000 participants, many from more recent graduating classes.) Both men and women in the study achieved advanced credentials in about the same numbers. But when it came to their career paths, there was a striking divergence.

Math-precocious men were much more likely to go into engineering or physical sciences than women. Math-precocious women, by contrast, were more likely to go into careers in medicine, biological sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Both sexes scored high on the math SAT, and the data showed the women weren't discouraged from certain career paths.

The survey data showed a notable disparity on one point: That men, relative to women, prefer to work with inorganic materials; women, in general, prefer to work with organic or living things. This gender disparity was apparent very early in life, and it continued to hold steady over the course of the participants' careers. __BostonGlobe
For decades now, women have had the power to choose their career paths. And women are making that choice, loudly and clearly. If the radical busybodies in political gender academics choose not to listen to the clear choices that women are making--and refuse to take the women seriously--then who is to blame here? The tendency of highly political academics to ignore the lessons from research in order to pursue their own disconnected pet policies to the tune of billions of taxpayer dollars, is getting quite old.

Let the women (and men) themselves make their choices based upon their own perceived self-interests. By all means provide all students with as much information about their wide range of choices as possible. Do not arbitrarily limit their experience or their choice. But let them choose for themselves.

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Blogger Athena Andreadis said...

I assume you are familiar with other cultures in place and time, and how social norms shape gender expectations.

The problem is not innate preferences, if they indeed are innate. The problem is the value attached to these preferences. Whenever a profession becomes female-dominated, its monetary reward and prestige plummet.

Add the unequal burden of childrearing with its undeniable emotional strings and you have a foolproof recipe for cheap labor.

Thursday, 22 May, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Yes, you express the feminist point of view quite well, Athena. It is up to science to determine how closely such a point of view accords with reality.

Thursday, 22 May, 2008  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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