Are Men More Intellectual and Skilled With Regard to Scientific Research than Women?
To argue that men are more intellectual and skilled than women is a claim that is misinformed and myopic as far as logical analysis and conclusions are concerned. This is an argument that may invoke gender perspectives as far as its evaluation and historical analysis of the roles and contributions of women in scientific research is concerned. Even where existing evidence seems most overwhelming, there is still need for further analysis so that a reason for the existing disparity can be established. Although scholars may hold varying opinion on this matter, only a few maintain that men are more intellectual and skilled with regard to scientific research than women. Although this issue has been addressed with a lot of bias, one may notice that even where there is dissenting opinion, there is need to scrutinize the underlying issue that prompt scholars to take such positions (Siemienska and Vianello, 2002).
It may, therefore, appear that this assertion is seriously prejudiced especially when more women are venturing into scientific research and science careers as these barriers are continually being phased out (Shrader, 2004). There is a need for one to conduct a literature review to mirror the real issues and the development of the matter. This is especially so given that many organizations, institutions and commissions have embarked on taking steps to identify the existing gaps and embrace corrective mechanisms. To achieve this, the following research question will be explored.
Does gender difference influence intellectual capability with regard to scientific Research?
Background Information on the Development of Gender Perspective in Research
Gender Mainstreaming in Europe
Back in the 1950s when Europe established the European Commission, the concept of equity was still limited in definition. Later, when the Beijing Olympics successfully campaigned for gender mainstreaming and gender parity recognition in social, economical, political and scientific spheres, the first step towards women empowerment was taken. It was a step that aimed at identifying the limiting factors with the aim of making the playing field plain. Therefore, the launch of gender mainstreaming particularly by European nations after the World Conference on Women laid grounds for involvement in scientific research. Efforts have been made since then to bridge the gap which existed.
For the European commission, the approach was adopted by the year 1996. In fact, women empowerment was adopted as a policy, meaning that by law, governments were forced by that clause to ensure that they supported institutions that focused on women empowerment in scientific research (Abel and Lederman, 2007). This was particularly emphasized in states where the disparity was alarming. One should note that by supporting women’s involvement in scientific research the policy just availed an opportunity rather than tangibly making changes by incorporating women in actual scientific research (Abel and Lederman, 2007).
Probably other social and cultural factors that had been impeding women’s involvement in scientific research were not addressed by the European Commission resolution. This is not to imply that the resolution did not work to empower women in scientific research, but rather that where non-financial factors existed, no tangible effort was made. Overall, one may observe that the European Commission realized that there was a need to empower women in scientific research as specified in the equity clause.
It is important to note that it was the call for sustainable science that eventually contributed to the rise of involvement of women in scientific research and science in general. There are studies that argue that Western Sciences are perceived to be masculine in nature (Roscigno, 2007). In fact, one may notice that the existence of gender stereotypes in many western scientific discourses. Another area that is scientific oriented and also happens to be dominated by males is technology. This is because there has been a perception that some courses are male oriented while specific ones are preserved for women (Cole, 2009).
Researchers have made attempts to examine the perceptions that some societies have had with regard to women involvement in scientific research. Some of those researchers point out to the fact that language and concepts have the ability to constitute and create gender bias. They also postulate that sometimes, deliberate effort to disregard the contributions of women in scientific research is made. The result of all these misconceptions and perceptions have prompted feminists to develop what observers have perceived to be a radical re-assessment of production of knowledge with particular attention given to gender and diversity. For feminists, the gender disparity in scientific research is an issue that one should analyze in close association with diversity. This is because of the perception that gender disparity in scientific research is also closely knit with diversity.
According to them, gender disparity in women, as far as scientific research is concerned, impacts differently among different groups of women. They assert that there is no such a thing as global woman. They maintain that all other aspects such as sexual orientation, age and ethnicity should be considered as vital diversity traits that affect involvement of women in scientific research. Many feminists, therefore, maintain that for clear understanding of factors that hinder or promote women involvement in scientific research, there is a need to examine the role of social, biological, economic factors and other differences between women in various areas. Economic factors become indispensable especially when policies that support women’s involvement in scientific research are sometimes interpreted within the economic position of a country. This is to imply that countries that have higher GDP are likely to support women involvement in scientific research both at individual level and institutional level.
A report by European Commission indicates that while there have been a significant number of women involved in scientific research, there is still lack of data from which one may collect vital information (Ayres, 2003). From the lack of a significant number of documented scientific researches conducted by women makes it almost impossible to analyze women’s views on some matters that require analysis from a gender perspective. Some of the areas where there is need to examine women’s contribution in scientific research include women involvement in innovation and women involvement in the development of science and technology.
Another area where there is limited data to analyze gender involvement is the energy area. Many scholars maintain except the emerging bio-energy sector, the old energy sector that is purely anchored on physics used to have quite a limited number of women involved in it. Efforts to address this disparity have encouraged an increased number of women in emerging research and scientific projects. Even so, the lack of data on women’s involvement in scientific research cannot be taken to imply that women are not competent enough to engage in notable scientific research (Ayres, 2003).
Although there was s good spirit of gender equity, another report by European Commission indicates that most states in Europe have independent models on how to finance research (Ayres, 2003). It is reported that sometimes the methods employed do not take into account the need for equity. It is observed that women can be disadvantaged. The study observes that this is especially so given that there are some family roles or sometimes stereotypes that tend to be crucial factors during decision making. Citing an example of a country such as Estonia, the study maintained that there is what appears to be an obvious discrimination against women. The research observes that the decision making Science Competence Council in the Country has a nine-member panel amongst whom there is no single woman. The report, therefore, postulates that it is highly impossible for such a council to make decisions that may be gender friendly. For instance, the council did previously consider parental leave until six years ago. Here women stay at home with children and as such cannot publish.
However, women still have to compete for fund where these are available. Taking a case of Belgium, it has been observed that women are able to get research funds from universities (Rutherglen and Donohue, 2007). They prefer to compete for funds at the university because men are more active in negotiating funds with industries. Although the research postulates that men are more active in negotiating funding with industries, making women prefer competing for university funds, there may be another side to this case. There may be a possibility that the industries are used to men negotiating for contracts such that the entry of women scientists is not given a fair consideration as far as allocation of funds for research is concerned. One should observe that for women to play their role in research there should be some sort of equal consideration in funding. This is very fundamental because failing to do so may perpetuate the school of thought that men are more intellectual than women. This is wrong assumption and should be dispelled.
Another reason that has propagated the perception that men are more intellectual and skilled with regard to scientific research than women is born out of the fact that nearly all the informal selection procedures that institutions adopt tend to disfavor women. Other studies suggest that given that many offices are male dominated, when the chances for promotion come, many men would see an academic woman first as a woman and then as a colleague. Under such prism, it is usually not easy for women to get recognition and sometimes end up being disadvantaged especially if their line was academic or research oriented.
When a woman’s chance for promotion to a position that would have enhanced her research has been victimized, it would not be fair to say that men are more intellectual and skilled with regard to scientific research than women (Zielinski, 2006). Similar results have been found also by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. Other scholars observe that although networking is very vital in research, it has remained an area that is still male dominant. It is being observed that the existing stereotypes and negative practices render it particularly challenging for women to be admitted into what has been considered influential lobbies.
A highlight by Rutherglen and Donohue (2007) reveals that although women have tried to make progress in the field of science and technology, there is still need for more effort. Such efforts should be geared towards not only encouraging more women to engage in scientific research, but also to sensitize men to be fair when evaluating women candidates (Zielinski, 2006). Urry say that she became the chairperson of the department of physics in Yale University, back in the year 2001, as the first female faculty member ((Ayres, 2003). She observes that although women are employed in the United States in great numbers that reach up to half the population of people employed, the disparity is so clear in some sectors. She highlights that women make less than 12% of the total workforce amongst physicist and engineers (Rutherglen and Donohue, 2007).
One may wonder why such a big disparity exists. Well, evidence point out to suggestions that when in many cases, scientists at some of the top universities tend to rate their male counterparts above females with basically similar qualifications and experience (Adil, et al., 2002). To them, women are neither capable nor worth hiring. In fact, they also go an extra mile in enumeration and award male scientists significantly higher than female scientists. Indeed with such blatant attempts to thrash efforts made by women, only a lunatic may buy the idea that men are more intellectual and skilled with regard to scientific research than women. Therefore, no real evidence has proved male dominance in the research field
According to Adil, et al. (2002) there would be a shortage of up to a million workers in the US in the next decade. Adil, et al. (2002) argues that there is a disparity especially where the number of women receiving their PhDs and those who are hired to serve as junior faculty. A study conducted by Adil, et al. (2002) highlights that the problem will not just solve itself by merely allowing more women to pass through the academic pipeline. The study was designed to investigate subtle gender bias on the part of the faculty with more focus on the physical and biological sciences. It may be surprising but the results found out that both the female and male members of the physical science faculty and biological science faculty judged female undergraduate students on the same scale. Both male and female faculty judged a female student as less competent and less worthy of being hired than their counterpart males (Ayres, 2003). The research also proposed that if women’s decision to leave science fields when or before they reach the faculty level results from experiences that reflect unfair treatment, then making efforts to improve their identification with science subjects will not yield desired outcomes. This is because other attitudes and notions will still be unpreventable especially faculty members’ bias. As long as the faculty is still not yet educated on the dangers of expressed, implied or demonstrated bias, there would still be a problem in addressing concerns about women’s involvement in scientific research (Ayres, 2003).
Proposed Remedies to Gender Parity in Scientific Research
In order to promote and improve gender participation in scientific research, and to disqualify claims that men are more intellectual and skilled with regard to scientific research than women, the following need to be done. To begin with, the society should attach gender requirement to all funding programs. Relevant bodies should set terms for organizations that that support research funding that their funding should reflect gender equality. There should also be gender balance in research teams before they are approved for a go ahead. This should be adopted as s standard so that the existing gap narrows down. Besides, it is also highly recommended to brief the panes charged with evaluation on the existing bias in the assessment and selection process. This may help in change of attitudes and overall improvement in gender participation in scientific research (Rutherglen and Donohue, 2007).
Creation of well funded program that is dedicated to promote the much need changes in many of the research institutions has also been proposed as s remedy measure. In fact, there should be more funding for institutions that make efforts to implement programs for recommended structural change. It may also be necessary to fund more specific research on women and gender. In non-research areas, various committees, expert groups, and high ranking positions should be gender balanced to create a picture of what the society should strive to be.
Most importantly, the education system should provide access to female role models so that others who are yet to make it may be motivated. Other practices and biases that insinuate male dominance should also be eliminated. The most common one is the gender pay gap in some countries and institutions. It is also vital for instructor to provide encouragement not only to female students, but also to male students. Encouraging them on the same platform not only eliminates bias but also affirms the message that all of them can make equal achievements. This also helps them venture in daring fields and still achieve (Rutherglen and Donohue, 2007).
In conclusion it is important to assert that men are not more intellectual and skilled with regards to scientific research than women. However, men have been unduly advantaged over women in the past leading to this common belief. Various reports and researchers have allayed this misconception. The fact that women in the scientific research field are viewed by their male counterparts as inferiors (Siemienska and Vianello, 2002) may not come to an end immediately though the society must take steps to eliminate it. As a result of the above identified stereotypes, one may notice that some men could not welcome women in their discussion groups citing inferior capability (Shrader, 2004).
In one way or another at every scientific research level, evidence has shown that women tend not to be judged by the standard of their input (Ayres, 2003). This is usually revealed in the form low salary enumerations, failure to get appointed to leadership positions and general lack of promotions for women compared to their male counterparts. By and large, gender bias portrays women as less intellectual and skilled (Zielinski, 2006). This fallacy can be overcome through ensuring equal treatment of both men and women in scientific research. Women should also be included in not only in science related fields, but in other social, economic and political realms of society.
Abel, S. K., & Lederman, N.G. (2007). Handbook of Research on Science Education. London: Routledge.
Adil, et al. (2002). Responsible Conduct of Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ayres, I. (2003). Pervasive Prejudice?: Unconventional Evidence of Race and Gender Discrimination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Cole, J. R. (2009). Fair science: women in the scientific community. Michigan: Free Press.
Siemienska, R., & Vianello, M. (2002). Gender inequality: a comparative study of discrimination and participation. California: SAGE.
Roscigno, V.J. (2007). The Face of Discrimination: How Race and Gender Impact Work and Home Lives. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
Rutherglen, G.A., & Donohue, J.J. (2007). Employment Discrimination: Law and Theory
Indiana: West Group.
Shrader, K.S. (2004). Ethics of Scientific Research. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
Zielinski, S. (2006). Barriers and Bias Hold Back Women in Academic Science. Eos Transactions American Geophysical Union, 87(39), 404.
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