Numerous studies show that deeply rooted sexist stereotypes and representations exist in our culture regarding the academic and professional abilities of men and women. Research studies also warn that these stereotypical beliefs have an impact on the academic and career choices of adolescents and young people. Milagros Sáinz, director of GenTIC and lead researcher of the HORIGESTEM project, explores these stereotypes and how they are reproduced in different socialization contexts in a chapter of the book Género y educación: Reflexiones para la igualdad en tiempos de crisis [Gender and Education: Reflections for Equality in Times of Crisis], recently published by Universidad Católica de Temuco.

 

In this publication, Milagros Sáinz reflects on the multiple factors explaining the underrepresentation of women in some scientific and technological fields. The director of GenTIC argues that there is a false belief regarding women’s lack of interest in science when, actually, women are interested in scientific and technological sectors directly related to health and care. Women also constitute the majority in humanities and social sciences university programs, particularly in studies closely related to education and the care of individuals, aligning with the gender roles traditionally assigned to femininity.

 

Stereotypical beliefs about the type of person who works in scientific and technological occupations, typically white, heterosexual men without any disabilities, and of medium to high socio-economic status, along with biases about science and technology as highly challenging professional fields that require high intellectual abilities, influence the lack of participation of women and other minority groups in STEM. Milagros Sáinz highlights that, despite the many efforts to promote equal opportunities and confront sexism, recent studies show an implicit tendency to associate intellectual brilliance more with men than women, and these stereotypical beliefs develop at very early ages. There is also the mistaken belief that women are more competent in language and reading, while men are competent in mathematics, science, and technology. The tendency to associate innovation and technological change with masculinity marginalizes the contributions of women throughout history, who have made significant advancements in cutting-edge scientific and technological innovations.

 

Milagros Sáinz asserts that it is necessary to eliminate sexist prejudices and biases in all academic disciplines, not only in science and technology, and emphasizes that this effort is particularly important during the secondary education stages. To conclude, among the keys to breaking gender stereotypes, Milagros Sáinz points to the importance of increasing the social prestige of care-related jobs and recognizing their value and significance for the design and development of technologies.

 

The publication is available in open access at this link.

 

Reference:

Sáinz, M. [Milagros]. (2023). Representaciones estereotipadas en torno a las personas que trabajan en ciencia y tecnología. Efectos sobre la elección de estudios y de profesión. In M. C. [María Cecilia] Fernández Darraz, G. M. [Gloria Mora] Guerrero, & C. [Claudio] Briceño Olivera (Eds.), Género y educación. Reflexiones para la igualdad en tiempos de crisis (pp. 169-183). Ediciones de la Universidad Católica de Temuco.

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

 

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