Gender Gap Continues to Exist in Teaching and Engineering

women in academeIn an article recently written by Katherine Mangan for The Chronicle for Higher Education, shows that there continues to persist gender inequity in STEM fields in spite of the number of women pursuing graduate and doctoral degrees. Here are some of the numbers that her research has come up with:

* women received 80% of undergraduate degrees in education
* women earned 77% of master’s degrees in education
* women received 67% of doctoral degrees in education  

In the field of engineering, women received
*18% of undergraduate degrees
*22% of master’s degrees
*23% of doctoral degrees

Female intensive fields continue to be the health professions, teaching, psychology, English, and foreign languages.
The fields that men monopolize include STEM fields, philosophy and religion.

Why does this disparity persist today, even after the awareness that has been brought to light on the matter and the outreach efforts on behalf of these fields as they attempt to include women?

Kristen Renwick Monroe is a political science professor at UC Irvine and is writing a book about gender inequality in academe. Her work focuses on determining the reasons for this inequality, and her conclusions are grounded in the fact that women continue to struggle with “Integrating [their] work and personal lives [which] can be difficult since women still tend to bear the primary responsibility for housework, as well as for the care of children.” Apparently, the answer to this problem is not situated in science, but rather, in the fact that women are expected to do it all while men shun their responsibilities within the home.

In terms of the public realm, Monroe goes so far as to say that administration continues to believe that female professors in academe are distracted by their responsibility as parents in ways that male professors are not; as a result, the way they are perceived is limited and limiting.

In regards to female students, they do not have the same number of female mentors that male students acquire from their male professor. In current research, it has been determined that in order for female students to thrive and continue their work in STEM fields, they need strong mentors — preferably female ones — who can teach them the ropes of their discipline but also how to maneuver around obstacles they all experience such as sexism.

This article is good because it shows the limited scope of women’s experiences in academe and that cultural stereotypes continue to thrive.

College Girls and Eating Anxieties: A Scholarly Article

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a 2003 article published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Rozin, Bauer, and Catanese,psychology professors from the University of Pennsylvania, interviewed 2,200 college students about their food attitudes with a focus on gender and regional similarities and differences in their responses. They conclude that “in contemporary American society, especially among women, food and eating lead to ambivalent feelings. The pleasure and necessity of eating are opposed by concerns of appearance…and that Americans spend a lot of time worrying about calories and fat [which] detracts from the quality of life” ( Rozin et al. 132). This ambivalence leads to anxiety, worry, and a sense of failure among American women, which produces “normative discontent” in terms of their bodies.

Among the college students they interviewed, girls were more concerned with their weight:

72% of women reported that their “thighs were too fat” in comparison with 11% of men;
34% of women were happy with their present weight as opposed to 58% of men;
34% of women claimed a willingness to give up eating if it could be replaced by an inexpensive nutrient pill as opposed to 21% of me. (135)

In terms of regional differences, they observe that France has a “much more relaxed attitude toward eating” (Rozin et al. 132).  In France, people “are less likely to diet or make food choices dominated by concerns about health; find the pleasure of eating uncontaminated by worries and guilt; and tend to think of food as a sensory and social experience rather than as a source of nutrients, toxins, and calories” (Rozin et al 140). While Americans, especially women, think about food in terms of the consequences, the French eat food for pleasure.

Very insightful article.

Work Cited

Rozin, Paul, Rebecca Bauer, and Dana Catanese. “Food and Life, Pleasure and Worry, Among American College Students: Gender Differences and Regional Similarities.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 85.1 (2003):132-141. Academic Search Premier. Web 3 Nov. 2012.

Sexy 6-Year-Old Girls: A Scholarly Article

Image from sacomssmediawatch.com

Christy Starr and Gail Ferguson, psychologists at Knox College, Illinois, co-wrote an article that gained a huge readership on the web recently. They conducted a study in which they interviewed sixty girls between the ages of 6 and 9. The girls were shown two dolls, one dressed in sexy clothing hat revealed a lot of skin and the other in a trendy outfit. They were asked to point to which doll they felt they looked like, they wish they looked like, and so on. Most of them pointed to the sexy doll, and Starr and Ferguson concluded that these girls, between the ages of 6 and 9 felt a great deal of pressure to look like the sexy doll.

The researchers found that this has a good deal to do with television, advertisements, movies, peer pressure to be popular in school, and the influence their mothers had on them. They concluded the article with advising mothers of little girls to have open discussions with them about the images they view on television. Studies have shown that mothers play a significant role in their daughter’s self-esteem and self-image. The truth is that nowadays, television shows and advertisements need to come with commentary from responsible adults who can teach their children how to demystify the images kids are exposed to on a daily basis.

I couldn’t find the article itself, but I did find this article from LiveScience that covered the material on this scholarly work quite adeptly.

Wage Penalty for Mothers: A Scholarly Article

“The Wage Penalty for Motherhood” is an article written by Michelle J. Budig and Paula England. These two scholars take Waldfogel’s 1997 study and build upon it arguing that there is a discernible penalty that deters women from earning as much as men in their field because of the role they assume as mothers. Waldfogel’s study showed that between 1968 and 1988, women were penalized by 6% if they had one child and up to 15% for more than two children(204). Budig and England posit four possible reasons this “motherhood penalty” is occurring not only in the United States but also in the United Kingdom and Germany (205). I say possible because they use this opportunity to show that these reasons are null and void. The reasons follow:

  1. loss of job experience: when women leave the workforce to be in charge of children, they lose job experience. When they return to work, they have already lost anywhere from 5-10 years of experience. They claim that there is no substantial evidence that this may be a reason mothers are penalized in terms of their absence from work.
  2. be less productive at work: apparently mothers aren’t as productive at work because they are reserving all their energy for when they pick up the kids from school. Hmmmm. Interesting. Using the human capital theory, mothers are compared to non-mothers, who are apparently getting more than mothers because they spend more time participating in leisure activities after work than caring for rowdy kids.Here our authors posit that no studies have measured the productivity levels of mothers to non-mothers to validate such a theory. Next….
  3. choose mother-friendly or part-time jobs over higher wage positions: mothers may decline full-time positions with higher pay for jobs that offer flexible schedules, no traveling, no weekend work days, and so on. They refute this argument by referring to a study conducted by Glass and Camarigg in 1992, which showed that men’s full-time jobs offered the same benefits of “mother-friendly” jobs and yet men’s wages are not penalized.
  4. mothers are discriminated against by employers: this is the last reason posited and the one that Budig and England stand behind. Employers penalize mothers, assuming that they won’t put in the work, they will be tired or distracted from the second job they have at home, or they will leave in order to have more children. Therefore, they are not taken seriously, compensated fairly, or assigned privilege in the workforce.

This is gravely unfair — contributing to issues of gender inequality — for men are not penalized when they become fathers. After all, they can be distracted and fatigued from their role as fathers. Studies go as far as to show that in some areas, men are paid more after they become fathers. They get all the benefits when they become fathers, but women are sacrificed in the home and outside of it. In then end, this wage penalty affects women’s pension and retirement, for they don’t have as much income with which to survive when they reach retirement age. This also contributes to the pay gap among single mothers and men as head of households among the poor, as well as to the power struggle women face if married, for he who makes more money, often has the privileged voice. And even though this is a dated article, I will find a more updated one, I guarantee the issues continue to prevail as they did in the late 90s.

Food for thought.

What do you think? What have been your experiences as moms going back to work, working part-time, or being a working mom?

Work Cited

Budig, Michelle J. and Paula England. “The Wage Penalty for Motherhood.” American Sociological Review 66.2 (Apr.,2001):204-225. JSTOR. Web. 14 Apr. 2012

“Gender, Parenthood, and Anger”:A Scholarly Article

Angry Talk (Comic Style)

Image from Wikipedia

Women not only have to fulfill the normalized notion of mothering that has been inscribed upon their gender, but they also have to mollify the fears of the men who sleep and parent beside them; the men who watch their mothering skills with keen eyes fearful that their sons will be castrated by their mother’s mood swings, hormones, and unhappiness. Their anxieties and transferred onto women, and women’s anxieties are then transferred onto their children, and the cycle of dysfunction and maternal myths abound for generations to come.

An excellent article that studies how these anxieties manifest into anger among women is Catherine E. Ross and Marieke Van Willigen’s “Gender, Parenthood, and Anger.” Using a gender inequality approach, they conducted a study that showed how the unequal responsibilities within a household, especially in terms of parenting, can result in aggression and anger.

The results of their work refute gendered responses to inequalities, wherein it is believed that men show anger outwardly because they have been socialized to compete and be combative while women show their anger inwardly because they have been socialized to nurture, love, and care for others. Ross and Willigen’s study shows that women are angry and are quite demonstrative with their anger, lashing out first at their husbands and then their kids. This anger, which is a “social emotion [ ] results from the assessment of inequality in social situations or relations, from perceptions of being treated unjustly, or from perceptions of violation of a fair social contract” (573).

Based on interviews of 2,031 adults, their research finds that gender inequality within a household is evident in that mothers’ work equals 76% of the childcare concerns while men lag behind, committing to only 36% of the childcare concerns. This involves taking charge of their school and extra-curricular activities, carpooling, locating and securing childcare facilities and supervision as well as how to pay for childcare while both parents work.

It is this inequity in marriage and parenting that infuses women with “higher levels of anger than men, that each additional child increases anger, and that children increase anger more for mothers than for fathers” (572).

Work Cited

Ross, Catherine E. and Marieke Van Willigen. “Gender, Parenthood, and Anger.”   Journal of Marriage and Family 58.3  (Aug., 1996): 572-584. JSTOR. Web. 14 Apr. 2012.

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