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Comparing and Contrasting Men and Women in Engineering Careers

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Engineering
Wordcount: 1193 words Published: 18th Oct 2021

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Men and women face inequal treatment when it comes to the fields of Science, Math, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Due to the varying circumstances that both genders face, such as maternity, they are treated differently. This essay will observe the reasons as to why this is the case. Before extensive research on this matter, it is predicted that women will have lower wages, higher rates of discrimination in the workplace, and will comprise less than 50% of the entire engineering workforce. Men and women’s engineering careers have three wide disparities, in wages, amounts of discrimination in the workplace, and percentages of each gender within the field as a whole.

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The wage gap is not a myth. “The overall male-female gender wage gap for women who work in STEM is about 18 percent,” (Michelmore and Sassler, 203). This indicates that a woman would make 82 cents for every dollar that a man would earn in an identical job. The valuation of the work for a woman is lower than that of a man strictly because of their gender. Wages also” differ in the case of maternity. Women usually take on greater responsibilities than men in the case of maternity because of their pregnancy, which is also reflected in wages. When a man has a child, their wages are either positively or not effected,” (Waldfogel, 147). However, when a woman has children, they are at a disadvantage; “on average, a woman in a STEM career with children will make $10.97, where a woman with no children will make $12.15,” (Waldfogel, 144). Lower wages for women contribute to low self-esteem, poor performance in the workplace, and it serves as a deterrent for future women looking to pursue STEM careers.

Throughout high school, college, and up to the workplace, the gender makeup in STEM is widely disproportionate. In a 2014 research study done by Thomas A. DiPrete and Joscha Legewie, “The gap between middle school girls and boys interested in STEM is 6%, and between high schoolers is 10%” (264). This disparity continues to increase when it comes to college majors. “The gender gap between women and men in STEM fields in 2013 was 23.4%,” (Zafar, 547).” By the time women get to the workplace, this percentage increases even further to, “a discrepancy of 50% in gender for [STEM] occupations,” (Diekman et al., 2010). The population of STEM-drawn girls is already small in middle school, then in high school, it gets smaller, and then in college, it gets even smaller. Since the population of women in STEM starts small, it only gets worse when it gets to careers. By the time women reach the workplace, it has reached the point where they make up only 25% of the entire population.

 Discrimination is the driving factor that deters women from pursuing STEM careers. Sexual misconduct, inequal opportunities, and stereotyping are all areas of discrimination that women experience. In a 2013 study, it was found that the reasons “women don’t initially see science and math as options,” are because of under confidence due to negative comments and treatment from male peers (Zafar, 550). This under-confidence can be attributed to the notion that science and math careers are more closely associated as masculine and male fields, whereas humanities fields, like arts and reading, are considered more feminine, female careers. Other stereotypes perceive men as more analytical and technical, further emphasizing the fact that these careers are not for women. Not only are women initially daunted by STEM, once they are in the career, they experience additional discrimination. In an environment dominated by men, women are at risk for higher rates of sexual misconduct. In fact, in workplaces with more men, “28% of women have experienced sexual harassment at work,” (Pew Research Center, 10). Second, there is a preconceived notion that considers women to be inferior to men in the workplace. “20% of women say their gender has made it harder to succeed at work, and 50% of women say they have experienced gender discrimination at work at least once,” (Pew Research Center, 6). Women have a harder time receiving job promotions and getting jobs, are treated like they are less competent, and feel isolated in their workplace.

Men and women in STEM have varying experiences. Men are presented with more opportunities, less discrimination, and higher overall wages. On the other hand, women are presented with fewer opportunities, higher rates of discrimination, and lower overall wages. Therefore, women are subjected to more hardships in STEM careers.

Works Cited

  • Vanantwerp, Jennifer, and Denise Wilson. “Difference Between Engineering Men and Women: How and Why They Choose What They Do During Early Career.” 2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition Proceedings, doi:10.18260/p.23881.
  • Whigham, Myrna A. “Gender-Related Differences In Engineering Students.” NACADA Journal, vol. 8, no. 1, 1988, pp. 35–45., doi:10.12930/0271-9517-8.1.35.
  • Waldfogel, Jane. “Understanding the ‘Family Gap’ in Pay for Women with Children.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 12, no. 1, 1998, pp. 137–156. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2646943.
  • Blau, Francine D., and Lawrence M. Kahn. “Rising Wage Inequality and the U.S. Gender Gap.” The American Economic Review, vol. 84, no. 2, 1994, pp. 23–28. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2117795.
  • Katherine Michelmore, and Sharon Sassler. “Explaining the Gender Wage Gap in STEM: Does Field Sex Composition Matter?” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, vol. 2, no. 4, 2016, pp. 194–215. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/rsf.2016.2.4.07.
  • Gill, Andrew M., and Duane E. Leigh. “Community College Enrollment, College Major, and the Gender Wage Gap.” Industrial and Labor Relations Review, vol. 54, no. 1, 2000, pp. 163–181. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2696037.
  • Zafar, Basit. “College Major Choice and the Gender Gap.” The Journal of Human Resources, vol. 48, no. 3, 2013, pp. 545–595. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23799096.
  • Sax, L., Kanny, M., Riggers-Piehl, T., Whang, H., & Paulson, L. (2015). "But I'm Not Good at Math": The Changing Salience of Mathematical Self-Concept in Shaping Women's and Men's STEM Aspirations. Research in Higher Education, 56(8), 813-842. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/24572043
  • Cech, Erin A. “Ideological Wage Inequalities? The Technical/Social Dualism and the Gender Wage Gap in Engineering.” Social Forces, vol. 91, no. 4, 2013, pp. 1147–1182. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/43287496.
  • Diekman, Amanda B., et al. “Seeking Congruity Between Goals and Roles: A New Look at Why Women Opt Out of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Careers.” Psychological Science, vol. 21, no. 8, 2010, pp. 1051–1057. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41062332.
  • Pew Research Center, January 2018. “Women and Men in STEM Often at Odds Over Workplace Equity.”


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