Women and Work

Why Women Choose Differently at Work by Susan Pinker (Nautilus)

I checked this interpretation out with Wendy Williams, Cornell psychologist and co-author, with Stephen Ceci, of the seminal book, Why Aren’t More Women in Science? She concurred. “If the environment offers options for a good life in multiple domains of work, then girls choose to pursue what they are best at relative to their other abilities. This might be STEM, or it might be law, for example. However, if the environment offers limited options and if the best options are in STEM careers, girls tend to focus more on their skills in STEM. The key is that girls and women are making choices that maximize their success, and these choices are not always for careers in STEM.” In places where girls and women feel they have the freedom to make their own choices, in other words, they are more likely to act on their personal strengths and interests. But in places where they feel constrained by cultural or financial strictures, they are more likely to go for what they consider a sure thing, which is a STEM career. I absolutely agree with and promote equal access to opportunities and education. But equal access to opportunities and education does not determine an equal result. Assuming that women are simply a tamped down, smothered version of men—and would always choose what men choose if they only had the chance—is neither respectful of women’s autonomy nor supported by the data.

Photo by Tanja Heffner on Unsplash

Author: Khürt Williams

Gen X-er near Princeton University in Montgomery Township, New Jersey, with a passion for aquariums, terrariums, technology, and photography. I love hiking in the woods, and my eclectic musical tastes span soca, Afrobeat, calypso, 1990s rap, grunge rock, and alternative genres.

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