Only Anecdotal

No numbers, just stories

Flower and Stem

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I was in my car listening to the radio, as I do quite a lot, and heard another story about increasing opportunities for women in STEM education and career paths.

The reason this is important is obvious: there should be no room for gender considerations in any field. But there is another consideration that comes up time and time again in these sorts of discussions, and this is that jobs in STEM pay more. Is the exclusion of women from STEM-related jobs part of the reason for salary inequality?

No doubt it is. But then, I wonder why we do not hear the same sort of push for men to enter fields that are traditionally held by women. I have known a handful of male nurses and social workers, for example, a few administrative assistants. Go to an elder service agency or a preschool, and count the men. Not many, in my experience.

I personally was not drawn to any STEM-related career track, though I liked math. I understood more science than I realized, but never wanted that life. Was it culture? Undoubtedly I was discouraged by an atmosphere that may have seemed overtly hostile to women, but more than this, I was more drawn to other areas: writing, languages, translating, interviewing and making connections, teaching. I invented my own way, to a great extent, and I saw my STEM-oriented brother leap far beyond me in salary at a very young age. I remember the heavy sighs from my family as I pursued my interest in literature, social work, advocacy–sighs undoubtedly at the thought of my inevitable poverty. But more than this, the sighs indicated a fear–a fear stemming from our society’s utter lack of serious respect for the fields where I excelled, for the career path that I–and many others–really wanted.

And this is what baffles me, really, not so much just that women don’t get an equal chance in STEM, but why we look down on those non-science, non-technical, non-engineering, non-math career paths and demonstrate our disdain by paying them so little money? Who determines the worth of work? I know the official answer to this question, but I ask this at a societal level. In a world that truly meets the needs of all of its citizens, shouldn’t we be encouraging people to explore many interests, and to pursue fearlessly and boldly those in which they truly excel–not abandoning talents we need in a rich world for the sake of work  that has been artificially deemed worthy of a livable wage?

Written by Only Anecdotal

17 May 2017 at 7:45pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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