Thanks to McGoo I was hopping around the Net and stumbled upon Mitchieville talking about the reason (with scientific analysis to boot!) why some careers are dominated by… well, men.

Here’s an excerpt, but the full analysis is HERE:

Now, after many years of struggling with the age-old question, why are there so few women in certain math and science-related jobs, the answer has been found:

Substantial numbers of women – highly qualified for the work – stay out of those careers because they would simply rather do something else.

One study of information-technology workers found that women’s own preferences are the single most important factor in that field’s dramatic gender imbalance. Another study followed 5,000 mathematically gifted students and found that qualified women are significantly more likely to avoid physics and the other “hard” sciences in favor of work in medicine and biosciences.

You mean to tell me that the gender imbalance wasn’t due to inherent and systemic sexism that has permeated every fibre of the sciences?

I always wondered why it was so hard to get laid on a construction job.

I always thought it was because I never kept a ready supply of this in the house for the women I met.


~ by Old Iron on May 23, 2008.

21 Responses to “Vindication.”

  1. It’s the specific industry that stops me from applying or working for someone. It’s the job description itself. I’m a chicky chick. I don’t like breaking my nails or getting my hands dirty (unless of course a sink is nearby or gloves can be worn). I like people and I need to deal with people. I can work magic thru mounds of mysterious paperwork and red-tape. So – I prefer to let the ‘roll-up the sleeves and play in the mud’ kinda jobs for those who actually like that stuff… and be the one that makes sure they have everything they need to be able to do that. It’s not sexist. It’s not a gender thing. Like the study showed – its preference.

    And for the record… I’ve worked on plenty of construction sites and thoroughly. I was just in the trailers doing the paperwork and managing the complaints. I can swing a hammer because that is what I grew up with but I like my nails the way they are now (Yeah.. I know… a priss… whatever) and therefore choose something different.

    Show me where… and I’ll sign up. Just don’t ask me to break a nail… ;0)

  2. It’s NOT the specific industry… is what I meant to say…

  3. Uh, just to give Old Iron a heads up, has a really overzealous spam filter, and has a long-ass history of putting a blanket ban on WordPress. Basically, it’ll declare your site banned if you put the URL in the URL box. It’ll be a few hours till the host unbans WordPress again. I figured I’d give you a heads up, given that you’re a frequent commenter, but still kinda new.

  4. Never mind, seems to be working…

  5. Another thing I’d like to point out… it has always been automatically implied that men are the reason why women’s salaries are lower, as if men purposely set them lower out of preferential treatment or greater merit given to men.

    I’d like to offer a different theory. The saying:

    If you put low value upon yourself, rest assured, the world will not raise your price. -unknown

    Men are more aggressive and more likely to speak up when they have done something that deserves merit and hasn’t been noticed. They are also more likely to say “No, really, I think I’m worth *this* much.”

    If women are shown to be as aggressive as men in negotiating for salary and there’s still an imbalance, I’ll buy into it. Thing is, I can’t think of a single thing that can be done besides say “Respect yourself!”

  6. Have I ever mentioned that I love this site? Just thought I’d throw that out there.

  7. Heh. Good points Lemur, and thanks MP. Seems like I range between “pissed” and “funny”, and it seems to work.

  8. LemurKing: I for one am one of those women who speak up.. but I do work in a prodominately male dominated work place and industry. Which means that unless I am on all fours blowing the director… I get punished for it. There are two mindsets in the workplace… there are those who do see your value and give merritt accordingly… while others – unless you force them into action… would rather do jack shit for you. And sadly… many women fall in the later category because they don’t want the label of being a BITCH for demanding equal pay. Sadly here in Canada… women still get paid less – approx. $0.85 for every dollar a man earns for the same job description. But we are expected to do more – especially in administrative roles.

    There is no equality… at least not where I’m sitting. But I’m not the type of person who sits for very long and let that just be a fact of life. Screw that shit. Certainly… respect yourself is key… but doesn’t go very far when there is a lack of forward-thinking men running the industry that I am currently employed in.

    Time to look elsewhere.

  9. Like I alwyas say, money doesn’t diappear, it moves. Follow the money, which in this case seems to be out of your current employment and to another place. You would be suprised at how many other companies out there do not have the same hangups as the one that you work at…

  10. Yeah, it always gets me when people start crying, “Why don’t women want to be scientists and engineers?!?” Uh, maybe because they don’t like science and engineering? DUH. There is not a single barrier of entry into science or engineering in the US. (Other than ability, of course.)

    (Though I will say that male professors from foreign countries tend to be less receptive to female students. In high school, my computer science teacher, who had nearly literally just stepped off the boat from Russia, actually told my mom, “Girls cannot do computer science.” He came around by the end of the year, though, and was actually quite fond of me; he even called other kids over to show them my programs and tell them mine were better than theirs. [Kid: “So what? Mine works.” Teacher: “But this is better way! Is computer science way!”])

    Anyway, any woman in the U.S. who wants to be an engineer is perfectly welcome to be one (provided she is qualified). Any woman who prefers a less technical job is also perfectly welcome to take that job (again, provided she is qualified). It’s a free country. I think feminists would be better off directing their scorn toward those countries in which women are NOT free to go to university, study whatever they want, or even go out for a walk on the street without a male relative.

    KC, I hope you find a better job. Those guys sound like shitheels.

  11. I am working with her on that as we speak, as per the standing offer I made at the end of the “Bogeyman” post. The work is out there, you just have to know where to look.

    -that also goes for anyone else interested; if you don’t mind a little travel there is a ton of positions in both the oil and defense industries that are available right now. Let me know in the comments on any of these posts (and provide a valid email address as well) and I will ping you back.

    No need hoarding what I know…

  12. KC, I have to say that if you are experiencing honest-to-goodness shit of that nature, it is time to look elsewhere. No one should have to put up with that shit.

    I still worry about statistics in this instance because while they do nail down actual incomes (which is good) they still do not capture “why” in a concrete manner. I’ll try to say that in a less muddied fashion… they still rely on anecdotal reasoning. Statistics or polls that grab results like this are rarely rigorous enough to support the conclusions and oftentimes they only serve to make worse a perception of systemic ill-will towards a group.

    Another thing that can skew the *average* is maternity leave beyond the three months allotted in the US. Quite simply the six years my wife is taking off from being a scientist IS going to impact her salary because she’s not accruing experience.

    I guess there’s something else I’d like to bring up. There is also a hypersensitivity issue, which does not limit itself to women, so easy there, Kc.

    In my daily job I run into all sorts of asses – that expect me to work around the clock, go on travel, who jerk me around, and essentially mistreat me. Here’s the issue I want to bring up. There exists the possibility that if you perceive yourself to be targeted (sensitive, or female, or a minority, a certain religion, whatever) then your interpretation of those shitty events that literally happen to everybody – they can take on the appearance of having more sinister origins.

    What I’m saying is that I do not doubt that there are racist, sexist, and demeaning assholes out there and that there are a number of them. But what I am saying is the vast majority of people I know are kind, anti-racism, anti-sexism, and anti-harassment – and this is across all walks of life. It’s far more likely that those issues plus rape, child molestation, mugging, murder, etc. are being done by the same small percentage over and over and over, and sensitized sub-groups of the population are reading it wrong as often as they are reading it right.

    It irritates me when someone complains that their profession clearly receives the most shit. I’m not bitching for sympathy here when I say that being an engineer and working 60+ hours a week still only nets you your base salary kind of sucks. Salary means you work what you are asked to work. On a per-hour basis, I could make as much working at a department store. Oh well, if I don’t like it there are many other jobs out there.

  13. And by the way – Old Iron, thanks. I think that your offer above is a very good one.

    Good luck KC. Leave the shitheads and don’t look back. There are good companies and good people out there, really.

    I’m married to an engineering scientist, I work with female engineers, secretaries and admin folks (female), and they are all good at what they do. You can do better and should expect it.

  14. Lemur… trust me I agree with you considering I am very involved in the Engineering field, research & development… add in manufacturing and distribution… I think I have a lot of industries covered here!

    I agree with you that it’s not necessarily a gender specific concern here. What I believe is that the assholes of the world who thrive off the backs of the likes of us… pick on the more sensitive, less-likely to speak up for whatever their reasons maybe. Being that my industry is military based – we have a lot of old school retired high ranking officials working at our company who believes in the yelling in your face, berating you into submission tactics. They will work on you until they break you. You are to simply do as they say… and accept it as the word of god. And if not… they cannot fire you because they rarely have the grounds to do so… but they will make your life miserable until you quit.

    I am not that type of weak person and I will fight back. I do fight back… which is good but also bad. For the first half of my career at this company – it was freakin AWESOME! I had the BEST boss ever. I looked forward to coming into work. I still respect that man like there is no tomorrow and I would still jump at the opportunity to work with him. He stood up for his employees and empowered them to do their jobs and be effective at them. He gave credit where credit was due and worked one on one with you to improve in areas that needed improvement. And – we got compensated for our time and good work. They – as in upper mgt – decided to split us up and I am now working in a dept that feels I make way too much money – because I was compensated for my work in the Program office. In Finance, I haven’t seen a raise in two years. I bust my ass off to make sure I do a great job at what I do. And I still get shit on because the director has decided he doesn’t like me. He doesn’t think I should be in this position – yet he won’t move me. He has it in for me for having spoken my mind and standing up to defend myself against his false accusations against me… getting him into a some trouble.

    Is it time to move on? Fuck ya! (Sorry I swear when I get rilled up… ) I have been trying to move out of this position, company and industry for some time now. I am even willing to relocate. But it hasn’t happened. I get this close… and then it doesn’t happen. But I keep on trudging… because as my old boss says – at the end of the day – there is only one person truly looking out for you… and that’s you. If you don’t do anything about it… you get nothing out of it.

    I’ll never forget that man. He’s my hero. And an amazing leader, one I have learned so much from and emulate whenever I can. That will be the sad part about leaving when the time comes… and its coming soon. I feel it.

    Oh.. and in Canada… we have a one-year materinty leave. So yes, I do believe that factors into to the salary gap between men and women.

  15. By the way, KC and Mrs. Peel, the wife I mentioned (mine) goes by the name “Cruel Wife” and I asked her if she’d post her two-bits worth for a contrasting opinion.

    I like this sort of discussion Old Iron, because you get to see issues from different viewpoints.

  16. Thanks Mrs. Peel. One thing to note is in Canada… the Computer Science industry is very well supported here in Canada by women.

    Thanks to Old Iron.. I have a lot more options opened to me … that I didn’t know existed!!!

  17. “the assholes of the world who thrive off the backs of the likes of us… pick on the more sensitive”

    I agree. I don’t think it will help you feel any better, but they are predatory to anyone, typically. And feel free to cuss all you want! I’m all for it when it is warranted and yours sure seems to be. When there is a real legitimate beef, I’m 100% sympathetic, but the flip side is those who may “work the system” as a tool to get what they want.

    On your last comment, I think you’re doing the right thing. Looking elsewhere yet saying “While I’m here I’m going to do my job and I’m going to do it well.” That’s just plain good ethics. Unfortunately economically it is just a bad time to be looking. My wife’s company (not “hers” but where she worked) kind of died a few years ago and even if she weren’t staying at home for the kids I think there’d be the issue of them going under.

    I certainly agree that old school types are much more prone to this sort of assholery. It is my hope that as Gen-X comes more into power a lot of these weird ideas will be phased out. My generation (gen-x) at least from my point of view seems to be much better about trying to find a pragmatic balance – recognizing that no one is more qualified in the early years to raise the kids than mom is, but that she also has every right to pursue a career as well. You have been lucky to have had a boss like the one you described. Everyone should be so lucky.

    It’s my belief that Gen-X has gotten some good ideas – racism is shit, sexism is shit, and that some of our older ideas are just *wrong*. We have some rather strange ideas in other areas but that’s another discussion! 🙂

    I’ve been yelled at an abused before, one instance was where if the equipment broke down again I would be fired. It was due to fear for my job that I got into a position where I almost lost my arm instead, and ended up with permanent damage. It was then I decided that I would NEVER allow someone to abuse me in a job again. I do know what abuse is like… not a fan of it.

    One saying fits well here, too. “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.”

    And by the way, thank you for not misinterpreting my words and “yelling” at me. I was worried that I might cause upset by trying to throw in thoughts/observations. May I ask what field you are in? Me, I’m an aerospace engineer with experience in spacecraft, research, and some naval systems.

  18. The company I work for develops/researchs and manufactures LAVs (Light Armoured Vehicles) on an international level. Ultimately – it is the military without is being directly in the military. So we cater to the Armed Forces and do some retrofit activities for the USMC as well. Tanks on wheels, baby!

    Old Iron has seen some of our vehicles in action. The product is great and pretty impressive as well. Many of my coworkers are awesome and I have learned so much from them. But it’s just time for something new. Been at it for 8 years now. And I fear, it’s not gonna get any better.

    I would never yell at you!! You’d be surprised … I am pretty opened minded when it comes to this sort of stuff… If one doesn’t evolve and change with the times, they get left behind – and dammit – I’m tired of being stagnant. The only time I would get bitchy is if you personally attacked me, degraded me and then I would have to hurt you… LOL!!! From what I’ve read so far, that’s not your ammo… so we cool!

    My physical safety isn’t in danger at my work. But my mental and morale sanity is. But what I don’t think they counted on was my stubborness and my unwillingness to conform without valid reasons.

  19. Alright. My husband, the Lemur king, asked me to weigh in and throw my two cents into the pot. Essentially, I agree with the premise of the original statement at the top. Women do tend to pick careers in lower paying jobs. Compare the number of female engineers to the number of male engineers. Now compare the number of female preschool teachers and childcare workers to the number of men working in same positions. When you bring up the question of salary equality, studies like these don’t get it right. They take averages across many fields, rather than comparing men and women with the same level of experience, working in the same field and type of industry. That becomes a much more complex study, and its rarely addressed by these “gee-whiz” articles.

    How to boil this down w/o making an epic novel here?

    Women have lower paying jobs because:

    1. They prefer more social, care-taking type positions because they enjoy them. (Teachers, nurses, even secretarial work, etc, vs engineers, construction workers, business executives, etc.)
    2. They don’t want to go through the effort required to get to those higher positions. Women in general, are less aggressive and driven than men. Men have to go hunt down that mammoth and drag it back to the cave. Women the gatherers, preferring less aggressive means of fulfilling their needs.
    3. They have bought into the lie that women (themselves, specifically) can’t excel in the more technical fields.
    4. They had kids, preventing them from getting the education needed to obtain these jobs.
    5. Rarely, but on occasion, it is because they truly do have sexist pigs for bosses, or simply pigs in general.

    Random thoughts on the subject – if I go into greater detail, I’ll be writing that epic novel again.

    I’m the daughter of a chemist, who studied in the 50’s. She was told by her friends that she’d never find a husband because men don’t like women who are smarter than themselves. Lucky for me, that wasn’t true. ^.^ Still, when I was young, girls in the advanced math and science classes had harder times getting boyfriends, dates, etc. It seems inconsequential at 39, but at 13 not having a boyfriend was practically the end of the world. You put these two problems together, and you get a higher percentage of girls that will avoid technical stuff from a young age. The highest paid jobs are in technical fields, or in business. Its a pattern that gets ingrained at a young age, and becomes a filter through which you see yourself. I saw myself as a smart girl, but socially awkward and unaccepted. I can’t tell you how many women have told me that they “don’t have a head for numbers”. I always wonder how many of them could have been better at math if they had been encouraged.

    Women who have children at young ages have a difficult time getting a 4-yr degree in anything, much less a study-intensive field. I knew of only three when I went to college, and it was a very large state university.

    Women tend to be much less driven and aggressive in their career goals. This is a generalization, but fairly accurate of the majority. Men are not always aggressive go-getters, but there is a much higher percentage of aggressive men than women. Here’s a double standard for you. If a man is aggressive in his goals, he’s ambitious. If a woman is aggressive, she’s often called a bitch. Aggressive women tend to attract negative attention.

    As for KC’s supposition that a woman has to be on all fours to get ahead, I’m glad to say I haven’t been on the receiving end of that attitude, but I know there are still pockets of old-school chauvinism out there. When you are in a field where the fruits of your effort are evident (research scientists producing data and papers, business people closing deals, etc.), problems are less evident. When you are at the whim of an evil boss, there’s not much else you can do but find a new job. I’ve know men and women in similar positions, where the boss was gunning for them, making life miserable, and even drumming up reasons to fire or lay a a person off. On the flip side of that, I know there are women out there who actively use their sexuality as a part of their arsenal, and it gives women a bad name who want to be respected for their accomplishments, not their sex. I’ll never forget being told about “3-button Suzie” during my internship. This woman was known for popping open that third button when she wanted a guy to do her a favor, and leaning in close… More often than not, she got what she wanted. When I was younger, I batted my eyelashes a few times and asked nicely, but nothing so crude. I always found politeness and consideration paved the roads for me much more nicely than conniving and manipulation.

    Last thing I want to mention, and I’ll draw this novella to a close. I was taking 2nd semester engineering physics and was in my lab for thee weeks before I realized I was the only female in about 20 students. I had to laugh at myself for being so used to being in the “man’s world” of engineering that I didn’t notice, but to the credit of the guys, they never did anything that brought the fact to my attention either. I had the respect of most of my fellow students in the department, and those who did not respect me usually didn’t because of differences in opinions, not because I was female. I’m glad that I didn’t grow up in my mother’s generation, where she was treated as an oddity for wanting to be a chemist. It takes more than one generation to get rid of all those attendant cultural biases and expectations. I think western civilization as a whole has made great strides in leveling the playing field in the last 30 years. It still needs work, but sexism, like racism, is usually frowned upon now instead of being expected.

  20. And that, folks is her short version. Like being married to a squirrel.

    Kidding, dear.

  21. HAHAHAHA!!!!

    Encore! Encore!

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