Sunday, June 17, 2018

Cultural Sexism

In the United States, far more women graduate from college than men. ObGyn doctors are overwhelmingly (85+%) women. In addition, more women than men are enrolled in medical school Astonishingly 80% of students in veterinary schools are women.  They also dominate law schools and graduate programs in general.

However there are still large gender gaps, especially in STEM areas. And strangely the gap is larger in more affluent countries than poorer ones.

Much of the reason I believe is cultural sexism. Two recent experiences have supported this.

I have a work colleague whose husband is an Obgyn doctor. On a recent business trip we were having dinner when I mentioned that I had heard on the radio that there are so few men going into ObGyn that schools were starting to give men affirmative action preferences to enter the area.  She quickly said he husband was an ObGyn surgeon and this area was still mostly men. Although she did not say it directly she implied that it was a very difficult area so it was more male dominated.

My other experience was in talking to a couple of young women who are just finishing up their Physical Therapy degrees. One said that her classes were almost all women with just a few guys and contrasted that to college physics where the gender ratio was reversed.  Oddly, to me anyway, she did not think that was wrong but rather stated that men like hard sciences more than women. I told her that may be true in the United States but it is very much a cultural thing. She acted kind of surprised.  (To me honest, it made me feel good to get her to question her assumption)

I know really smart women who are think of themselves as feminists yet still think that hard sciences are a male thing. Which is kind of insane as not that long ago people thought the same way about doctors and lawyers. Yet now the majority of graduating students in both those areas are female.

Go back a few more decades and they said the same about higher education in gender. And even today there are some cultures that think that way about any education for women.

The STEM discrepancy has no biological basis. It is entirely explained by cultural sexism.

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