Women In Science Careers Essay

2291 words - 9 pages

According to a six-year study reviewed by the University of Washington Human Rights Committee, conducted by Suzanne Brainard and Linda Carlin on undergraduate women in science, “20% of freshmen reported no barriers; only 3% of seniors could say the same.”(Bickenstaff 380) This study illustrates a common theme for women studying a science. There is no one defining reason for why women feel there are barriers but several theories suggest that there could be more than one contributing factor that causes these ‘barriers’ for women. Looking at multiple possibilities, it can be determined what causes the under representation of women in science careers such as physics, biology, technology, engineering, and math.
There are many examples of areas in science which women choose not pursue for one reason or another; Sue V. Rosser, from the Georgia Institute of Technology studies women in work and academy, and found that “women [earn] 55.5 percent of the Master of Science degrees in all fields, they [earn] only 39.3 percent of the degrees in science and engineering fields” (53). Women may be pursuing some forms of science, but not to the extent of equality in certain areas. The American Association of University Women reinforces that “women earned only 21 percent of doctoral degrees in computer science in 2006” as quoted from the National Science Foundation (1). Sue Rosser observes that “Women [earn] 40.6 percent of the Ph.D.s in all fields but only 32.8 percent of the Ph.D.s in science and engineering” (53). Whatever the cause, it is apparent that women fall behind in degrees in many types of science fields. Arguable explanations for this vary from lack of intelligence of women, to fear of sexual harassment.
A popular stereotype is that women are simply not as talented in the areas of math and science and therefore cannot compete with men in these fields. Catherine Hill, a leading researcher from the National Association of Scholars, reveals that “Lynn and Irwing (2004) found small or no differences in average IQ between the sexes; that is, neither girls nor boys are the ‘smarter sex.’ Other researchers have found, however, that girls and boys tend to have different cognitive strengths and weaknesses” (17).Therefore intelligence is cannot be a huge factor in career choices. Jacob Blickenstaff quotes J. S. Hyde, who facilitates that “… psychologists have broken down intelligence tests into many sub-tests to look at a variety of ‘kinds of intelligence’ including verbal, mathematical, spatial, and logical abilities. This has enabled researchers to find sex differences in intelligence, resulting in the almost canonical belief in male superiority in mathematical and spatial abilities and female superiority in verbal abilities” (372). Spatial abilities may be the reason women do not succeed in certain fields, however, Jacob Blickenstaff elaborates, stating that “The degree to which men out perform women in spatial ability could explain a two to one ratio...

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