Scientifically, Statistically and Satirically Significant

Today I hope to answer a question that plagues many scientists and science teachers today. Why are there more men than women in science?

The answer is so obvious. Literally staring us the face.

105 boys are born for every 100 girls worldwide.

So in the global population at the moment, men outnumber women 101 to 100 (more men are killed during wars, etc.. so this accounts for lower than birth rates). So isn’t it just natural that there are more men than women in science?

At this point those of you who perceive this issue in a sane and realistic manner may mildly grin. Those who are radical feminists prepare an outraged argument.

Yet I remind you, in the field of Biology, in high school girls outnumber guys 1.9 : 1 and in undergraduate courses, 59% of the students are female and 57% of the Biology postgraduate students are also female. And that’s even considering that there are less women than men in the world!

Audience in shock horror

But our radical feminist is back … what about the gender imbalance in physics? That’s only 20% girls! And look at how many girls are senior professors … only 17%! You can’t ignore that!

Well, you might argue, perhaps girls don’t really enjoy Physics that much? And, yeah, it sounds like the number of female professors is lacking somewhat, but some of that’s because they’re parents and so forth.

And now we introduce our male chauvinist. He’s shocked that there are less men in Biology and passionately argues that his gender is being discriminated against. He shouts angrily, “If you’re promoting ‘gender equality’ then we should see a 50:50 split in Biology. You hypocrites disgust me.”

 

I think we get the picture. I don’t want to offend anybody, but I like to view such issues somewhat cynically. However, there are less women than men in STEM overall and I’ve got a radical new point.

What if we try and promote science in a gender neutral way?

It’s important to open STEM learning and careers to everyone, regardless of gender or race or age. I think all science should be promoted evenly and allow more people access to the understanding and knowledge that helps us make informed decisions. That’s part of the reason why I blog here, I see it as my contribution to simplifying science for people.

We can’t support initiatives for environmental change if we don’t understand why they’re necessary, like why we should promote solar-powered cars, or care about accumulating space junk. Or perhaps you just need to be able to understand if your coffee’s gonna kill you or extend your lifespan.

 

All stats in this article are Australian based and taken from this fact sheet published of the Office of Chief Scientist. 


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