Women in the workplace deserve better recognition

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Just because women are being hired in rigorous professional fields, doesn’t mean they’re being treated equally.

From engineering to economics, logical and data-driven disciplines remain traditionally male-dominated due to men’s supposedly superior intellectual rigour. Even now, with women entering these spheres in unprecedented numbers, they’re faced with discomfort once they arrive to their workplace. In economic academia alone, data shows clear discrimination and rampant harassment for female economists.

When an industry sees increased rates of professional women, it often loses credibility. Within typically male-dominated engineering, some disciplines of the field are considered “girlier” than others based on the amount of women in the program.

The gendered workplace is less common than ever before, but it persists nonetheless. From wage gaps to sexist comments, women are systematically discouraged to enter certain industries on the basis of their supposed unsuitability.

This starts at a young age. Teachers call on boys more than girls in the classroom, often asking them more complex questions. This develops a confidence gap and makes women reluctant to strive for career advancement despite the lack of formal barriers.

Women are still so novel in male-dominated fields that they fear any mistake will destroy their legitimacy. They can’t attain professional parity without men’s engagement in workplace equity.

Whether in high schools or universities or beyond, it’s important for men to seek exposure to the ideas of women expert in their fields. At the American Economics Association conference, four out of seven presentations were all-male panels, despite the female co-authors of the men’s papers being present in the room.

After centuries of power over women, men should actively seek out opportunities in the workplace and beyond to listen—women shouldn’t have to fight for them. This pursuit should be encouraged to start early, before unconscious gender bias is ingrained in young boys’ minds.

At Queen’s, this means men attending conferences geared toward gender equity, or advocating for female speakers at their events. It also means trying not to talk over women or treat their presence as an anomaly in math or science classrooms. Exposure to different ideas and experiences would benefit men, both personally and professionally.

It’s up to every man to understand that women’s professional development is the norm—and why it should be treated as such. Re-thinking daily interactions with women in the workplace could go a long way toward ensuring that’s the case.

—Journal Editorial Board

 

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