The Discrimination Females Face in STEM and Everywhere Else in the World

This is such a heated topic, fingers crossed I keep my emotions under control! May break down into tears/uncontrollable anger while writing this post. My hormones must be approaching that time of month. Or I’m just batshit crazy because I have two X chromosomes.

Nope. I’m just one of the billions of women worldwide who suffer from inequality in every aspect of the word. I’m going to start by explaining how it affects me personally and then how it translates to a universal problem. I mean catastrophe.

Also, I think Brett Kavanaugh did an excellent job demonstrating the overt anger issues testosterone can produce (i.e. screaming in Supreme Court) and Trump has truly demonstrated how emotional decisions (i.e. demanding a wall be built) can put a country in distress. Government shutdown day… 234? Actually it’s day 29 but we’ll get there. Both of these situations were expected from a female because of how “dramatic,” we are and yet look at these men putting us to shame. So sad.

I am your stereotypical girly-girl. I relish in dolling myself up, wearing makeup, getting my nails done, wearing heels, elaborate skin-care routines, you name it- I do it. I am not, however, your stereotypical girl when it comes to anything beyond that. I do not entertain gender roles and I will never be entirely dependent on anyone other than myself to provide for me and/or my family. I am not a housewife, I am not educated just to apply my skills to bake sales and volunteering positions. Chaperoning field-trips or managing dinner parties. There is not a single thing wrong with those who choose to center their lifestyle by those activities. But they are not what women should be expected of or assigned to doing. Men should not be subjected to the vice versa of these gender roles, either. However, we live in a society that oriented itself around men telling women what to do. What they can and cannot do, where they can and cannot work. What they can and cannot be paid. Whether they truly can be self-sustainable.

This is not just about the wage-gap, this is not just about sexual harassment, this is not just about rape culture. It is the aggressive dominance of men in every factor of a woman’s life that gives way to this method of control. Even if a woman can provide for herself, manage herself and her family, she is seen incomplete without a man. She is deemed to be unfortunate because she does not fit the traditional idea of what a family looks like. Her work? Discredited. Her efforts? Invalidated. They are seen as just enough, but not an accomplishment because she does not have a male figure matched to her.

Why is this so significant? Because when I tell people that I am studying to become a doctor- of the first things I am asked is, “Are you going to marry one, too?” In what world can the amount of effort it took for me to get into medical school translate to me securing a dating pool of men who have an MD? The one I freaking live in. Even worse, some don’t ask. They comment that I was smart to go to med school as it increases my chances of ending up with a doctor. I’m sorry, what?

A female doctor is not respected in the way a male doctor is. This is evident on a factual level through the wage gap. On average, a female physician in the same field and specialty is paid $100,000.00 LESS than her male colleague. She could be working the exact same number of hours if not more, and will be paid LESS. There are male doctors who have infamously attempted horrid justifications for this. Among the excuses, the most common are that female physicians prioritize their families over their patients and therefore are not as dedicated or concentrated on their work as male physicians. That females are generally more lazy and therefore see less patients. That we are not as competent as male physicians and therefore we do not deserve the same pay. That patients feel more comfortable, more confident in the abilities of male physicians as females are expected to make more mistakes. Enraged yet?

There’s more! If you try not to think about the financial injustice taking place, there are always the sexist individuals who will call you, “Nurse.” This is demeaning to FEMALES and NURSES. There are male nurses. There are female doctors. Both require different types of training. Both are valued. Both are vital to the way the healthcare system works. Nurses are respected, honored and crucial parts of any hospital or clinic. They are not female aides that lacked the intelligence to become a doctor. They are not a second-choice occupation. Stop treating them like one.

There’s still more! Female doctors who look a certain way are perceived to be beneath female doctors that portray a unisex, minimalist appearance. Every doctor, or employee of any field, should maintain a professional and comfortable appearance. Do not wear anything that could get in the way of your work or be considered inappropriate. However, this is not interfere with the personal preference of style some individual’s may have. If a female doctor dresses with trend and style, she is seen as superficial and more concerned with her looks than her job. If a male doctor dresses with trend and style, he is seen as an attractive doctor. That’s it. His clinical skill does not come into question. However, to females, “You’re too pretty to be a doctor,” is not a compliment. It’s an insult. How attractive an individual is or how they like to dress themselves has no correlation to their level of training, knowledge or experience. It’s simply superficial and discriminatory to think otherwise.

I’ve focused on medicine for the majority of the piece because that is where my focus is personally. Unfortunately, that’s not the only place this complex level of sexism occurs. As mentioned before, it takes place in every single occupation- but research has demonstrated that it’s higher than average for women in STEM. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. All fields with predominantly high male occupants. All fields known in society as prestigious, difficult and hard to obtain.

I desperately hope this changes and that the efforts that all women and men have put into creating awareness and reconciling the rules that maintain these injustices do not go in vain.