Gender bias not as strong in today’s job market

By Christine Kim

The inevitable division between males and females starts at birth.

Is it a girl or a boy?

What may seem like a harmless and reasonable question is actually the start of separating males and females on two different paths. Pink and blue. Stuffed animals and airplanes. There’s a distinct line between the Barbie dolls and tea parties and the computer games and build-it-yourself trucks.

This inevitable thrust towards a designated path may be a contribution to gender biases in the future. Cathy Mao, one of the few female freshmen majoring in Aeronautical and Astronautical engineering, describes how children grow up unknowingly with gender guidelines.

“As children our parents differentiate what we do around the house depending on our gender. Girls will help their mothers clean and cook while boys will help their dads with the computer and help fix the car,” Mao said. “At such a young age, we have guidelines drilled into our heads unknowingly and we can’t help but to keep those guidelines with us as we choose our majors.”

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However, a growing percentage of people are stepping out of these guidelines.

Alex Joo, sophomore in Engineering, stated the benefit of acting apart from the majority. “There’s a mold, but people respect those who can carry themselves on their own, even if it means breaking the mold,” Joo said. “I personally don’t think it’s too bad of a thing. It gives unique people more of a chance to shine.”

Mao discovered the benefits of majoring in a field with fewer females. The many scholarships geared towards women in the engineering field and the stability convinced her to choose this major.

“It’s a wise career choice and these days it’s really hard to get a job,” Mao said. “With a good grade point average and being a woman in engineering, I’m pretty much guaranteed a job.”

Matthew Buckles, a second year nursing student, described how nursing was the only way to do patient care in the military with an undergraduate degree. Being committed to ROTC, going into nursing provided a way for him to become an officer as well as gain a chance to move up to a mid-level provider, a position between doctor and nurse.

With a growing percentage of males in the nursing field, stereotypical images of a lady in a white dress, shoes and hat is slowly fading away and attracting more male nursing students.

“There are more than 50 percent of males in the critical care unit in the military,” Buckles said. “It’s a highly technical profession of dealing with life and death scenarios and it’s more on a cooperative level.”

John Stanley, senior in nursing, explains that despite the rarity of a gender in a certain career field, both women and men possess the same qualities to accomplish their tasks.

“I think men can be just as successful as women and do just as great of a job in caring and helping patients,” Stanley said. “Having more men in the nursing field does not change anything except the percentage. Men can play an equally important role and be just as successful.”

However, Buckles did discover a disadvantage of being one of few males in class.

“There are less people to connect with during class,” he said. “I’m used to having half the class being males, but now there’s only four other guys. Things that you talk about and joke about are not necessarily the same.”

Despite stereotypes regarding career fields, both genders are growing equally in pursuing fields of their choice.

“One of the benefits of nursing is that it opens so many doors to so many options,” Stanley said.

According to Cinda Heeren, a visiting lecturer in the department of computer science, the reason the field of computer science appears to be dominated by males boils down to one thing:

“I think it’s simply an issue of marketing, which is why we’re trying to make the field more visible,” Hereen said. “There are so many powerful things a person can do with a degree in computer science. Who wouldn’t want to take part?”

Hereen was quick to point out that although women only make up about 10 percent of the computer science department, they remain a vital and diverse presence within the field.

” I don’t like to stereotype, because even though we have few women, the personalities of the women we do have reflect the varied tapestry of women in society,” she said. “Their one common trait, shared by all the students in our department, is that they are very bright.”