Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Explained: Why are there more men than women in the field of STEM?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Women in STEM

Across the world, there are more men who are active in science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) than women. Of the 866 Nobel winners so far, only 53 have gone to women.

Sociology behind the gender-divide

  • Research shows that when men and women apply for jobs — be in the labour market, or in places where high level qualifications are demanded, men candidates engage in self-promotion, and are boastful while equally qualified women are more ‘modest’ and ‘undersell’ themselves.
  • Even in groups and situations where men and women are present as colleagues, the views of women are either ignored or listened to less seriously than those of men.
  • As a result, women tend to underestimate their ability relative to men, especially in public settings, and negotiate less successfully.

Why this imbalance?

The authors suggest three socio-psychological reasons, namely:

  1. masculine culture
  2. lack of sufficient early exposure to computers, physics and related areas compared to boys in early childhood and
  3. gender gap in self-efficacy

Stereotypes and role models

I] Masculine culture

  • The masculine culture is due to stereotyping that men are fitter for certain jobs and skills than women, and that women are more ‘delicate’, ‘tender’ and thus unfit for ‘hard’ jobs.
  • In addition, there are not enough female role models whom women may admire and follow.

II] Lack of exposure

  • The lack of exposure in early childhood to certain fields and the supposed stereotyping of computer field practitioners as ‘nerds’ with social awkwardness would seem to have played a role from women shying away into other fields.

III] Gender gap in self-efficacy

  • The ‘gender gap in self-efficacy’ appears to have arisen as a result of the above two, and leads to a worry in girls’ and women’s minds as to ‘whether I am really only fit for certain ‘soft’ fields and jobs or a feeling of diffidence.
  • This is clearly a reflection and product of masculine culture.
  • But then, even when we turn to life sciences, where both men and women compete for positions and career advancements in universities and research labs, this gender disparity is glaring.

India is no better

  • The men rule roosts here too in India. India has been a patrilineal society with the notion that women need not take on jobs, and that this notion has only recently been revised.
  • Women form only 10-15% of STEM researchers and faculty members in the IITs, CSIR, AIIMS and PGIs.
  • In private R & D labs, there are very few women scientists.

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