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Math, Science, And Pink Collars: Gender Stereotyping And Its Effect On Academic Choices

2336 words - 9 pages

High school and college are both important institutions in many peoples' lives. These academic institutions are seen as places where identities are forged, friendships are made, important basic lessons are learned, and ideally, plans are made regarding both near and distant futures. High school and college are toted as places where post-pubescent adolescents are supposed to find out what exactly they want to do with their lives – a period of four to eight or more years where the groundwork for the rest of your life out in the “real world” is laid out. Whether you want to be a social worker, a chemical engineer, or a teacher, high school and college are the places where you can learn about what you are interested in as well as where you can receive a basic education.
High school and college are also the places where gender roles and stereotypes, especially in academics, begin to become glaringly obvious. In high school and especially in college, more of the curriculum is geared towards individual interests than in previous schooling environments. These specialized programs allow students to pursue things that they feel genuinely interested in, as well as allowing them to avoid those subjects that don't like. If someone is interested in taking an arts or a social studies class rather than an additional English class, they can usually do so without much trouble. In many cases, during the high school and college years, it is a widespread phenomenon that girls tend to lean more towards the “softer” subjects, such as English, art and social studies classes, while boys tend to lean toward science and mathematics. How do stereotypical gender stratifications affect the types of classes that members of each gender take? Do these stereotypes negatively affect later job opportunities?
In their 1983 paper, The Restricted and gender-typed occupational aspirations of young women: can they be modified?, William F. Kenkel and Bruce A. Gage explore the idea that women from low-income backgrounds were more likely to aspire to what are seen as female-specific jobs while they were in high school. Gage and Kenkel mention the the fact that “in American society, there is a pronounced gender-typing of occupations with the result that most people 'know' which jobs are feminine, which are masculine, and which may appropriately be filled by either men or women.” (Kenkel, & Gage, 1983, p. 129-130) Kenkel and Gage also cite many studies that have found alarmingly similar patterns in women and girls ranging from preschool to college age when it comes to their job aspirations and goals. Preschoolers and six year olds are highly aware of gender stereotyping when it comes to jobs, as are women in college and high school. They also mention studies that suggest that an increase in social class and education level comes with less occupational gender stereotyping – which is right in line with studies conducted by other parties that have found that the higher...


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