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Women in certain industries.

(168 Posts)
Tonka4 Thu 16-Mar-17 11:46:58

Just wondering what your thoughts are on certain industries being male dominated in terms of jobs? I'm thinking mainly science, technology and engineering industries. Is it sexism at play?

There is a follow up question to this.

LozzaChops101 Thu 16-Mar-17 11:51:21

Is it not fairly widely accepted that the absence of women in STEM fields is absolutely down to sexism?

IAmAmy Thu 16-Mar-17 11:53:53

In my opinion starts from a young age, with "girls' toys" and "boys' toys", children being pushed towards certain interests due to their sex, gender stereotyping persisting at nursery and school, lack of awareness or teaching about all the women who've excelled in STEM fields such as Ada Lovelace and Rosalind Franklin (amongst countless others) and girls feeling STEM subjects are "for boys" (as many said in a documentary last year by Professor Alice Roberts). It's also interesting, I think, that in many girls' schools such as my own, subjects such as Maths and Physics are amongst the most taken A Levels, Computer Science is thriving at another girls' school I know of which some friends attend and conversely in the boys' school my brothers attend subjects possibly considered more typically "for girls" such as English Literature are amongst the most taken.

DJBaggySmalls Thu 16-Mar-17 11:54:43

Instead of trying to catch people out with a clever argument, why don't you just state your case and start a discussion?

Tonka4 Thu 16-Mar-17 11:58:13

Well I'm interested to hear what people think on this issue.

msrisotto Thu 16-Mar-17 12:02:05

"Is it sexism?" is probably not a question for the feminism board...of course it's sexism, this is widely known so your question comes across disingenuous.

IAmAmy Thu 16-Mar-17 12:04:46

I was probably silly in writing my post, I certainly have no wish to engage with someone who's being disingenuous/just wants an argument.

IGotTheMustardOut Thu 16-Mar-17 12:06:15

I work in hospitality and the kitchen nearly always seems to be all men, especially in pub kitchens. I have no idea why though?

PoochSmooch Thu 16-Mar-17 12:09:39

Is it sexism at play?


Come on then, OP, what do YOU think? Let's have that supplemental question then.

Tonka4 Thu 16-Mar-17 12:13:23

Okay, so is it also sexism at play when the tables are turned? Over 90% of nurses are female. Is this an issue you feel strongly about as it must also be sexism at play?

ChocChocPorridge Thu 16-Mar-17 12:13:28

Well, I got bullied out of my Physics A-level at a mixed school by the male teacher who didn't think girls should be taking physics. I was also the only girl doing CDT at GCSE - purely because previously I'd been at a girls school, and had to pick my options without seeing the school, and didn't realise that it wasn't the done thing for females to do CDT.

On my degree course I was one of never more than 4 women in lectures of up to 100. In my jobs I've always been one of one or two women in my department (IT). When I go to conferences I'm in a distinct minority, and often the only female speaker.

Growing up, I often gave in on getting a turn on the computer because the boys at youth club, or my male cousins at family houses were reluctant to take turns, and very aggressive when I finally did get a turn.

I've seen women be managed out (pushed into project management roles), voluntarily leave (from helpdesk where she was getting continuous harassment she just gave in and went to work in HR).

So I think it's a combination of not seeing women there, and just a continuously slightly hostile environment - one where you're always the outsider, where you're always a problem because you can't share a room on work trips, because your (obviously male) boss can't take you on the sales or install trip because he's worried how it will look, because socialising outside of work with your colleagues means being the only woman in a group of blokes, and that can go south fast.

ChocChocPorridge Thu 16-Mar-17 12:15:38

Over 90% of nurses are female. Is this an issue you feel strongly about as it must also be sexism at play?

There certainly is sexism at play in nursing:

Studies also show that the moment a profession becomes majority women, the pay and status of the occupation decreases. I think we'd all happily welcome more men into nursing and teaching, and in fact, I've seen multiple schemes encouraging it. I have no problem with that, and heartily support it.

IAmAmy Thu 16-Mar-17 12:17:09

Tonka4 if you actually wanted a serious discussion and had read my first reply you'd have gathered that my points deal with the lack of men in nursing and childcare for example too. But you clearly just want an argument.

Bluntness100 Thu 16-Mar-17 12:21:41

I work in this field and Part of the matter is up until the last few years very very few women applied to work for us, they simply did not have stem qualifications and as such were not attracted to the industry in the same numbers as their male counterparts. As such, most senior people are of course now male. You can't employ someone who doesn't apply to work for you in the first place.

Now it's changing and the balance is redressing, but the core issue is more why women were not attracted to stem until recent years.

However, being in the industry yes I believe the other part of it was there was and still is sexism at play and now lip service is being played to try to rebalance it. Ie trying to get the numbers of women up because they have to.

Xenophile Thu 16-Mar-17 12:21:44

It's also a weird thing about nursing and other female dominated industries that when men do go into them, they magically rise very fast through the ranks to senior management. The same cannot be said about women entering male dominated industries.

So yes. Sexism.

Added to this the enormous amount of unpaid work undertaken by women both at the beginning and end of life, without which the economy would undoubtedly collapse and then you really understand what economic sexism looks like.

Now, tell us your thoughts about bin men, the military and the other examples that are used to show that women just don't pull their weight, the losers!

squishysquirmy Thu 16-Mar-17 12:23:13

I'll engage with you, but i suspect you may make me regret it...
There are all sorts of reasons why the "choices" men and women make are affected by the society we grow up in, and the different expectations and aspirations put upon us as children.
And once you enter a certain profession, problems continue.

Speaking from personal experience it can be more difficult working in a field which is very male dominated as a woman.
This can be partly down to overt sexism, but is also down to more subtle things - like a higher probablity of feeling excluded from workplace cliques, or finding it more difficult to network/suck up to the boss without intentions being misconstrued.
That's not to say that many individual men within an organisation aren't good people, nor is it to say that there is one over arching misogenistic conspiracy.
It's not one thing, it's a cumulative effect of many small hurdles that causes fewer women to go into these careers, and then once there restricts their advancement opportunities.
Many of the examples I could give would seem insignificant to you, and you would probably laugh at them. But there are so, so many that together they do have an impact.

What do you think?
When compared to population statistics, women are underrepresented in STEM careers, and in senior management positions across most industries.
I can see three possible reasons for this:
1) It's a huge coincidence.
2) There is something structurally wrong within those industries and/or society at large (like sexism).
3) Women are just a bit shit compared to men.

I think it's 2, How about you?

Tonka4 Thu 16-Mar-17 12:24:01

My point being that men and women are different and are interested and thus go into different work sectors. Women prefer nursing because for the most part they are more nurturing and maternal than men. Men in general are more technically minded and more interested in how things work hence going into STEM fields more often.

So I don't think it's sexism at play to be honest. I think it has everything to do with the choices men and women make.

If there are not many women in STEM fields do you know who's fault that is? It's women's fault for not going into those jobs. In exactly the same way that it's men's fault that most nurses are women.

But here's the thing. It doesn't matter! It's not an issue.

CMOTDibbler Thu 16-Mar-17 12:24:57

I work in STEM - my first degree there were 7 women out of 180, masters 2 in 20 (specialism has more women than the general, though not then in my sub specialism). I think there are lots of factors in girls not opting to study STEM at school and university, and even more when it comes to choosing careers and staying in them. Some of these are overt, but many are much more subtle and widespread. And may be voiced by other women - as an adult, I've probably heard much more judgement on what I do and my career from other women tbh

guerillastyle Thu 16-Mar-17 12:25:05

I have a degree in chemistry. At uni in the 90s the gender split was roughly 50:50. I now work in the pharmaceutical industry and the gender mix in the quality assurance department where I work is also about equal. My manager is female, head of department is male but previous two heads were female. Most staff are chemistry grads.
The plant based chemists are slight majority male, engineering 80%+ male. Microbiology is almost exclusively female. There are definite gender biases within the sciences.

squishysquirmy Thu 16-Mar-17 12:25:45

btw, I deliberately chose a male dominated career because I wanted money.
Female dominated professions are often ludicrously underpaid (nurses in particular) for the job they do.

Nonibaloni Thu 16-Mar-17 12:26:37

As a female engineer (albeit a new one) it wasn't what I expected.

Repeatedly warned I'd be the only girl (I'm 32). From a place of concern but almost put me of and I am a very confident secure woman. I know it put off younger students.

Also male bosses very enthusiastic to make sure my physical strength isn't a disadvantage. Except I am particularly strong, the males I work with not remarkably strong and the weights we're talking about are less than 5kg.

Even when they (employers, employees) are well versed in sex discrimination they have no idea how to properly execute it. I'm not apologising for them - there's many a tense meeting after I have made this point.

There aren't women in these industries, the first women will have a hard row to hoe. But keep screaming it from the rafters, new technology particularly should appeal to everyone.

I love that it's being highlighted though. And when I tell women and girls what I do they all have questions. I think that's the key! It feels a bit subversive but I love my job.

PoochSmooch Thu 16-Mar-17 12:26:55

I am imagining tonka's smile of glee as they though "a-HA! Gotcha!".

Are you trying to say that men are disadvantaged because there are barriers to them entering professions like nursing, that are the same as barriers faced by women attempting to enter STEM careers? They're not. They're both a result of archaic notions of what men and women should be doing - but women's historic exclusion from high-paying, high-status STEM careers is not at all the same thing as men's historic exclusion from lower-paid, lower-status caring professions.

EBearhug Thu 16-Mar-17 12:27:04

Why do men and women make those choices? It is sexism at play, and it starts young, in primary school and gets wrose trough t

squishysquirmy Thu 16-Mar-17 12:28:58

"But here's the thing. It doesn't matter! It's not an issue."

And yet, you find the time to waste discussing the issue that doesn't matter.
In which case I am guessing that you don't do very much work at all, paid or otherwise, in your time. So, neither nurturing nor technical then?

PoochSmooch Thu 16-Mar-17 12:29:36

argh, cross posted with this Women prefer nursing because for the most part they are more nurturing and maternal than men. Men in general are more technically minded and more interested in how things work hence going into STEM fields more often

STRONG disagree!

Have you done much research into this, OP, or is it more just "stands to reason, doesn't it?"

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