Once again I am rising to the bait, which has been cast on to the calm May waters by Una Morris.  Her latest earth-shattering, first world problem is the under-representation of women as authors of scientific papers.  This topic is dealt with in another piece in the Guardian. (Where would we be without the Guardian?)

Having read  Jenny Gristock’s article I have a few observations to make.

Firstly, I cannot agree with sexism in any form.  That gender bias exists in universities is not news and is certainly not acceptable.  The study on gender bias is interesting and would seem to show that there is  deep seated discrimination against female scientists at work in the academic world.  One of the most interesting findings of the study is that this discrimination seems to be practiced equally by men and women.

The article also quotes statistics that show that a majority of students in various scientific and medical fields are female.  The data does not mention how many of these students actually graduate.  It does not, either, mention how many of these female students go on to work in their chosen fields ofstudy.  Many, many women, including graduates, choose to stay at home during their child-bearing/raising years. Many, but significantly fewer, men choose to do so also. I fully support their right to do so.  It is a difficult decision to make, but the decision to forego a second income is one which, I believe, can result in the best possible environment in which to raise children.  A stable, secure home with a dedicated, loving, ever present parent in attendence will never be bettered by paid for child care at a creche or montessori.  When one considers the income which is foregone and takes account of reduced pension entitlements etc, it is a far more expensive form of childcare than availing of a local creche, even at a cost of thousands of euro per month.

Women should not have to choose between career and family, says the science magazine. But surely male scientists face similar choices? Apparently not.

Men are certainly faced with similar choices.  Women and men have to make choices together.  Women who want to go out to work and feel that they can not because their spouses will not stay at home to mind the children are probably married to the wrong men. This is a private choice that married couples need to make.  The same applies to the claim that politics or business is not ‘woman friendly’ as mothers have to be at home to make school lunches or put the kids to bed or get them out of bed, or whatever.  If these women want to have a full time career and are married to men who refuse to help around the house, well then they have married the wrong men.

There are sound biological, evolutionary and historical reasons that discrimination against women in the workplace exists.  We have evolved for most of the last 100,000 years in male dominated societal and family groups. Human civilisation has developed over thousands of years into societies in which men control almost all of the wealth and the power.  Much of this is due to the fact that women, through no fault of their own, bear children and men, again through no fault of their own, don’t.  Women, on a purely statistical basis, are hugely under-represented in the fields of business, politics, science, medecine etc.  They are also statistically under-represented in the fields of road sweeping, going down sewers to inspect shitty stuff, plumbing, carpentary, van driving, house painting, block laying, farming etc. but we hear little in terms of vocal demands for a 50/50 gender balance in these areas of employment.

Women are massively over-represented in the fields of primary school teaching, nursing, hair dressing, mid-wifery, child care… should I go on?

Ok.

Payroll and timekeeping clerks, Word processors and typists, Human resources assistants, Paralegals and legal assistants, Librarians, Office clerks, Library assistants, Personal care aides, Special education teachers, Insurance claims and policy processing clerks, Massage therapists, Social workers, Sewing machine operators, Tellers, File clerks, Information and record clerks, Health practitioner support technologists and technicians, Travel agents, Tailors, dressmakers, and sewers.

In all  of these professions women make up over 80% of the workforce.  The full list is here.  There is no hue and cry that men are being done down or disadvantaged because of this.  What the data also shows is that in all of these jobs women earn between about 84% and 94% of what their male colleagues earn.

So it’s an unfair world, after all.

We can make it better.

We can’t make it better by simply blaming men for all of the disadvantages faced by women.

Many groups face disadvantage in the workplace, in access to services or simply in life, because of gender, race, colour, sexuality and many other traits.

Working together we can make it a better, fairer, more equal world.

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