In our modern world, women face various challenges that men don’t, especially when it comes to pursuing careers in the STEM field. From the subtle to the obvious, there are countless examples of resistance women face daily in these professions. Here are ten different types of resistance that women have encountered in their professional lives as workers in STEM.
Table of Contents
1. School Ruined It
One woman admitted that she didn’t pursue a career in STEM because of a loss of interest. She said that even though she watches YouTube videos on microbiology and physics, the school took the “wonder” out of the subject for her. She claims that “learning for the sake of making a good grade” instead of learning for the sake of learning “took the wind out of that sail.”
2. Gender Bias
Gender bias can manifest in many ways. For example, women may be passed over for promotions because they are seen as less competent or less committed than their male counterparts. They may also face discrimination in terms of salary and other benefits.
Mansplaining occurs when men assume that they know more than women about a particular topic and explain it to them condescendingly. Women often have to deal with this behavior in the workplace and social situations. Because of the social belief system around women in STEM, men will often assert their opinion in a way that suggests that the women who work with them don’t know as much as they do.
Stereotyping is making assumptions about someone based on gender, race, or other factors. Women are often stereotyped as being emotional, irrational, and weak, which can lead to them being underestimated or undervalued. In the world of STEM, this can look like women getting passed over for leadership opportunities because they are assumed to be “too emotional” or “too irrational” to perform the job functions correctly.
Microaggressions are subtle forms of discrimination that can be difficult to identify but can significantly impact women’s lives. For example, a coworker may comment on how “articulate” a woman is, implying that they didn’t expect her to be well-spoken.
In the STEM field, everyone speaks using $10 words, so it’s frustrating when people are surprised when a woman in STEM can articulate herself well.
6. Lack of Female Role Models
Because of the severe lack of women in STEM, young girls don’t have the same variety of role models to look up to as men do. There are also plenty of stereotypes about what women in STEM are expected to be or look like.
In 2015, a software company called OneLogic launched a marketing campaign featuring a female engineer that looked like she belonged on the runway at New York Fashion Week instead of working as an engineer,
The campaign sparked a significant backlash from the general public, who argued that the woman in the campaign was not a realistic example of what a female engineer looks like.
Gatekeeping occurs when men try to exclude women from specific spaces or activities. This behavior can be seen in male-dominated fields like STEM, where women may be discouraged from pursuing careers in these areas.
For example, suppose a woman lacks the right amount of enthusiasm or immediate genius regarding the topic. In that case, men might try to push her out of the field by claiming she doesn’t know enough or isn’t “invested enough.”
8. Lack of School Support
In middle school, girls were encouraged to participate in science fairs and other STEM-based activities. However, once girls enter high school, especially college, STEM-driven courses, and activities start skewing more towards men.
One woman on TikTok recorded a conversation that students were having with the teacher that included lots of sexist language. She used the video to emphasize why women are becoming increasingly hesitant to pursue STEM careers.
9. Double Standards
Double standards are rules or expectations that apply differently to men and women. For example, men may be praised for being assertive. At the same time, women who behave similarly may be seen as aggressive or bossy. Women who rise to leadership positions in the STEM field may experience this double standard when giving instructions for a project or carrying out disciplinary action.
10. Parenting and Work-Life Balance
Women who are mothers often face resistance when it comes to balancing their careers and parenting responsibilities. They may be penalized for taking time off to care for their children or seen as less committed to their careers. STEM can be a demanding career path, and women are criticized for taking time off or coming back too soon and prioritizing their job over their families.
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This article was originally published on STEM Education Guide.