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Is it less socially acceptable for a young woman to declare an ambition to earn a high salary?

(9 Posts)
feministlurker Sat 17-Sep-11 17:27:02

Fresh from re-reading The Gender Delusion, I'm de-lurking to post this link

what motivates US college students to choose science majors

Apparently it's great that women are doing STEM subjects, because they have more altruistic motivations.

When I first read this is superficially seemed to make some kind of sense. After all, aren't women more mature at this age, more collaborative and less selfishly competitive individuals, and more aware of the future need for a work-life balance? Well, we're certainly socialised to behave as though we are. But it might be different if we weren't in a patriarchy.

My comments on this report are therefore:

1. this survey is maybe just telling us that women find it less socially-acceptable than men to mention salary when asked why they chose their subject. doesn't mean that they all
2. so the answer is NOT just to give "gender-specific messaging" about studying science (I have a horrible feeling this might end up involving pink calculators and pipettes, and end up reinforcing sexism in STEM fields) but to educate girls that it's OK to aim to be financially independent and earn a good salary of their own.

What do people think?

feministlurker Sat 17-Sep-11 17:28:23

Sorry for grammar blips. Clearly a good thing I gave up essay subjects as soon as possible smile

TrillianAstra Sat 17-Sep-11 17:46:37

The top reported factor for women isn't actually "doing good" though, it's "intellectual stimulation". I'd like to see the actual numbers to have an idea of why it's the "making a difference" thing that has been picked up on. Is it actually because the biggest difference was there, or is it because it makes a good story with compassionate women and money-hungry men?

It could be that women are discouraged from saying that they want to earn a high salary, but it also could be that men are discouraged from sounding too idealistic/naive if they say they want to do a job to "make a difference".

joaninha Sat 17-Sep-11 18:14:28

I was going with Trillian's theory that men really do want to save the world but are just too embarrassed to admit it, but then I asked DS why he wants to be a scientist and gave him those three options. It took him about 2 nanoseconds to give the answer "to make lots of money"!! Oh dear hmm

I do understand however that one 10 year old boy isn't a very reliable data sample!

TrillianAstra Sat 17-Sep-11 18:15:59

I don't mean that your theories are wrong feministlurker, but that there are other possible contributors as well.

wicketkeeper Sat 17-Sep-11 20:01:01

Not just younger women.

LRDTheFeministDragon Sat 17-Sep-11 20:48:54

What you say does makes sense feministlurker - though I agree with trillian there's probably a million things intersecting to influence all of this.

I do think men suffer more from the 'absent minded scientist' stereotype - quite a lot of mates are scientists and the men get gently patronized an awful lot by people who assume men doing science do it because they're nutty professors in love with making crazy theories. Maybe it is easier for women to admit they like the subject?

I suspect women who go into science will have been asked to justify the choice of subject more often than men, too - there's still a 'man's subject' view out there.

In general though, I think it is still seen as rather 'hard' or 'unfeminine' (boak) for women to be money-driven.

TrillianAstra Sat 17-Sep-11 20:50:10

Men need to be aiming for money because they are the breadwinners

Or something hmm

LRDTheFeministDragon Sat 17-Sep-11 20:56:00

That's probably a factor. angry

Although, interestingly, my friend who's decided not to carry on in academia after her PhD because she thinks she can't support her wife on a postdoc salary has had masses of people insisting that she's selling out or it's 'such a waste' ... far more than another (male) mate got when he dropped out to be a lawyer. You'd think people realize that in a lesbian couple, at least one woman has to be the breadwinner - or do they just think women don't need very high incomes?

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