This week I chose to compare two professions that have made quite an impact on my life. The first image I googled search was “engineer,” the profession that both my parents currently occupy. Not surprisingly, most of the images were of white men. Growing up, my mom had always encouraged me to become involved in STEM because she realized how important it is for women to become more involved in the field. She would tell me about her experience in college, where almost every group project she worked on (and there were a lot), she was the only female in the group. In 8th grade, I began Project Lead the Way Engineering Academy which I graduated from my senior year of high school. I was one of 5 girls out of 30, which was a really big deal that we had that many girls in the program. According to ‘Buchmann and Diprete: Gender Inequalities in Education,’ boys historically have excelled in areas of math and science, whereas girls flourish in reading. I wonder if this is due to biological facts, differences in interests, or the influences of our education system. Based on my experience, I can definitely attest to the fact that my engineering classes were the least bit “girly,” thus making it a lot less appealing to my female classmates. We worked on designing rocket engines, digital electronics, model bridges, etc.
In contrast, many of my female friends were enrolled in the child development program at my high school. This brings me to the second term I googled, “nanny.” Nearly every image in the google search was of a female caretaker with younger children. The child development program focuses on child upbringing and education, a predominately female field. As a babysitter myself, I have known very few parents who would choose to hire a teenage boy over a teenage girl to watch their children. Whether it be lack of interest from my male counterparts, or parents desire to have a female, the babysitting and nannying industry has always seem to be heavily female. Along with the engineering academy, these were two of the biggest programs offered at my high school.
In AAUW: Simple Truth About Pay Gap, the article touches on pay gap being due to choices made by men and women in their career paths. Engineers are paid more than nannies because of required skills and abilities to do their work. However, I don’t think society realizes the importance of nannies and their education levels to do their jobs. Nannying requires a great deal of psychological training because of how impressionable children are. Not implying that nannies should be paid more than engineers, but I believe that nannies are underappreciated for their tremendous impact on young children. Furthermore, there are still disparities in wages between men and women in the engineering field, all other things held constant. Although career choice contributes to pay gap, research shows there is still an unexplained gap between men and women’s salaries. Lastly, I believe that the two images I searched reflect the traditional roles that have been constructed by society. Whereas men are seeking jobs that are more mathematical and science based, women tend to seek jobs that are more domestic and nurturing.