Since the passage of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975, women have made tremendous headway in the UK and USA workforce. In fact, the number of female workers has never been higher. At last count, over seventy percent of women in the UK were gainfully employed, which is only eight percent lower than the employment numbers for men.
Unfortunately, there are three specific industries where women have failed to make much progress. While it is true that science, technology and engineering have always been male-dominated fields, most experts predicted that their numbers would increase after 1975. But that has not come to pass.
Today, only about twelve percent of the professionals employed in these fields are women. Why have women not advanced in science, engineering or technology? Well, it really does depend on who you ask and what they are printing.
Some feminist groups are quick to point out that companies that work in these fields are little more than boys’ clubs and that there has always been a bias against women. In their defense, businesses in these industries often claim that women are simply not as interested in science and technology as their male counterparts.
Which is true? Like most things, the truth may lie somewhere in the middle. Yes, most companies have made attempts to recruit more female employees. But it is also true that women are often discouraged from studying science at an early age because their teachers and parents often assume that they will have fewer opportunities than guys.
There is a very low number of women taking university courses in science, technology and engineering, despite efforts to encourage more women into these fields. The engineering profession remains a male preserve in particular, and a recent US survey reveals that out of the combined workforce within the engineering professions, women make up less than 11%.
There are many reasons for this. Some women are just not attracted to working in these areas and do not understand that there are opportunities open to them in what has always been perceived as male professions. Most girls are not encouraged at school, so they know little about what the work entails or what options to take. Others are discouraged by the image of working in technology and engineering and with a shortage of women role models, the perceived negative associations of these professions are further reinforced.
As a result, many women select professional career paths connected with creativity rather than with numbers and formulas. For instance, today, many women start and continue a career as an essay writer at writing help companies. Such websites (for example, WowEssays.com) are designed for students who cannot handle the entire abundance of academic assignments by themselves and opt for paying money in order to get the job done by experts online. As a rule, a standard essay writing service has about 60% to 75% of female writing experts on staff ready to develop an entirely original academic paper from scratch once they get a 'write my essay' request from needing students. Ironically, they often have to craft papers from the exact science area for male students and are really good at it.
Within the small number of women actually taking courses in engineering and technology, it has been found that many students come from families with an engineering or technology background. Even in these cases, although the students may have received parental approval and support at home, the overriding experience seems to have been a distinct lack of encouragement from school.
Although efforts are being made to encourage women into science, engineering and technology courses, it seems that there is a long way to go before women make up even a sizeable minority.
Although careers in technology, engineering and science are seen as being traditionally male occupations, a few women have made successful careers, discoveries and inventions in these fields. Many women have reported that they face prejudice when working in a predominately male environment, but experiences seem to vary according to the speaker and their own working situation.
Women in science have had a long background. One of the most notable scientists was Marie Curie – the discoverer of radium and the use of radiation for the treatment of cancer. She was the first person to win two Nobel prizes in chemistry and physics. She is an exception rather than a rule, but in general, science careers for women do not seem to have the same problems as careers in engineering or technology. This could simply be because we are accustomed to seeing women as scientists. The British ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had a successful career in science as a chemist before entering politics (some people felt that she should have stayed there!).
Engineering and technology seem to be more underrepresented by women than careers in science. One woman engineer Dr. Maire O’Neill attributes this to girls simply not knowing what the subjects are and not understanding that they could do them themselves. Dr. O’Neill has been a powerful speaker on the need for there to be more women role models in order to encourage young women wishing to go into engineering and technology.
Today much is being done to encourage young people, especially girls, to take up careers in science, engineering and technology. There is a long way to go, but once women are commonplace in working in these areas so it will become more acceptable for others to follow.