Reasons for differences of job choices between genders
Recently I have been seeing more and more campaigns into getting young women to enter in to male-dominated fields. The main field that this is a focus for in my mind is STEM – Science, technology, engineering, and math. While this may be because several of my friends are aiming for STEM careers, it may also be because of the need for diverse opinions in these particular areas that can only be provided if the field is filled with a diverse range of individuals. But why is it, even in the days where our employment is supposed to be unbiased, that there are fewer women in these male-dominated fields? And the same applies to certain fields that are female-dominated and lack male workers. Perhaps one of the reasons is because of fewer individuals choosing to go into these particular fields.
While there are a fair number of women in social sciences, the number of women in areas such as engineering are lacking. This may be due to the female preference for work environments where there are opportunities for them to work within groups or with other individuals. This may be what facilitates the interest towards social sciences, which often encourage discussion, debate and collaboration as well as subjects of study that can communicate with them. Women have also shown a greater level of people orientation – meaning that they have a focus on people – while men have been shown to tend to have a thing orientation – A focus on the things within the environment rather than the people within it – although a person doesn’t always determine their orientation. An orientation of either people or things can be used as a predictor for which sort of STEM course a person will choose when they enter college/university (Woodcock 2012) .
So why is it that these women are more people focused? Well, one explanation for this may be early socialisation. Traditionally, during socialisation of norms and values, the norms and values provided for males and females are fairly different. While young boys are given building blocks or puzzles to play with young girls are provided with toys such as dolls or teddies. The building blocks, while encouraging skills in areas such as an understanding of shapes and balance that may promote a later interest a field of maths or physics, do not encourage development in areas of communication and people skills in the ways that the dolls and toys provided to young girls will stimulate. This early socialization of the norms of our society doesn’t just affect what children grow to be interested in but also what young children grow to be skilled in. For example, young girls grow up to excel in subjects that require essay writing while young boys often achieve in maths and sciences where there is a focus on facts and numbers rather than discussion and argument.
While at first thought it may seem strange to think that the way that we are taught and raised at a really young age could affect the way that we think, learn and achieve as adults, upon thought this makes a lot of sense. But this does not define us, or who we will one day be. Even as grown adults, we have the potential to learn, adapt and change.