Essay on Women in Science and Technology
The era of globalization and rapid technological development has changed people’s lives dramatically. Science and technology play an extremely important role in the contemporary society. Government in developed and developing countries recognize the importance of the development of S&T sphere. The roles of men and women have changed dramatically in the contemporary society. Women have got more freedom to express themselves and take active part in the development of technologies, despite the fact that there are still problems in this sphere. As stated in the report by the United Nations(2011) called Applying a Gender Lens to Science, Technology and Innovation, : “There is also need for recognition of the importance of applying a “gender lens” to STI for development. Indeed, STI policies and programmes will not be effective, equitable and sustainable unless the gender lens is applied so as to reflect the aims, concerns, situation and abilities of both women and men” (11). People realize the gender equality is one of the components of healthy society and true development is impossible without it. Only understanding of contribution women can make to the development of science and technology can bring positive impact on the development of this sphere.
At the present moment all over the world, with small exceptions, women take an active social role and demonstrate their abilities in a lot of spheres. Nowadays women are active in good production industry, natural-resources management, educational sphere, community management. Women occupy different positions in these spheres and professions in the spheres mentioned above are mostly considered to be female ones . Big percentage of women work in the medical industry, as well. In the developing countries women are also often involved in agricultural sphere and take part in the production of food, selling it and farming. In addition, most of women have additional burden, such as home work and care about the members of the family.
Despite the growing temps of technological development and popularity of feminism, women do not still possess equal position in the society. “Although women and girls make up approximately 50 per cent of the global population, they have access to much less than half of the resources in terms of technology, financing, land, training and education, and information” (Applying a Gender Lens to Science, Technology and Innovation, 12). A lot specialists believe that true progress and development are not possible without women’s active participation in these processes. The gender lens would be an essential contribution to the development of STI sphere and would enable people to meet the global changes. “UNESCO figures reveal that in 121 countries with available data, women comprise 29 percent of researchers but there were big disparities among regions. For example, in Latin America and the Caribbean, 46 percent of researchers are female and Argentina, Cuba, Brazil, Paraguay and Venezuela have achieved gender parity. In Asia, women constitute only 18 percent of researchers overall. India and Japan have 13 percent female researchers and South Korea has 15 percent. In Africa women comprised about 33 percent of researchers” (UNESCO 2009). These numbers show that women’s participation in STI is very low. Even in the countries with comparatively high rates, women’s participation does not make even 50 per cent. These results show that gender inequality still exists in this sphere and it is necessary to pay scrupulous attention to this problem. The Baltic countries show the best results in this sphere. Women’s engagement in STI is comparatively high and is often higher than 50 percents. Among such countries are Lithuania (68.3 %), Estonia, Estonia (63.9%), Bulgaria (63.8 %), and Latvia (63.2 %) (Human Resources in Science and Technology). The experience of these countries can become a valuable help for other countries which want to establish gender equality in the sphere of science and technology.
The history shows a lot of examples of great input made by women to the development of STI. It is hard to overestimate the role of women in the development of different sphere. Scientific and industrial field, as well as other technological industries are influenced and dominated by men. Despite the fact that there are women who have played an important role in the development of STI industry, their names are rarely mentioned. For example, Ada Byron King, the daughter of the famous Lord Byron, became the first computer programmer. She also was a prominent mathematician. Unfortunately, her name is rarely mentioned in the history of the development of the computer industry and when people speak about this sphere they remember the names of famous male specialists. Earlier history also contains data about the famous female specialists in science and technology, but their names are even less remembered than Ada Byron King’s name. Hypatia, a Egyptian mathematician who lived in 400s made great contribution to the development of science. Maria Gaetana Agnesi made a great contribution to the science by her work in differential calculus in 1700s. Sofia Kovalevskaya worked in 1800s in Russia. Her contribution to the development of astronomy and mathematics is hard to overestimate. From recent history, it is worth to mention Grace Hopper, a PhD in mathematics. She became one of leaders on the field of software development and made a great contribution to the development of new programming techniques. “A true visionary, Dr. Hopper received many awards for her work, including — ironically — the Data Processing Management Association’s “Man-of-the-Year” award” (Abrams). Grace Hopper became the first to recognize possible profits people could have from the use of computers and she did a lot to put her ideas into practice. She realized that making the computers easier in use would increase their popularity among ordinary people. In this way she made her contribution to the computer revolution and made computers more available. This case illustrates not only women’s ability to achieve high results in the sphere of science and technologies. It also demonstrates the way female brain works. In contrast to men, who think about complicated schemas and complex technologies, women take into account the sphere of application and use technology more available for people. “Recent research has found that men are seduced by the technology itself. They tend to get into the faster-race-car syndrome, bragging about the size of their ‘discs’ or the speed of their microprocessors. Women tend to take a more practical approach. They generally think that machines are meant to be used, and don’t really care about what’s inside the box. They just want it to work, and to get things done” (Abrams).
In the interesting study performed by the Center for Children and Technology specialists tried to find the difference between male and female approaches to technological advances. The participants of the experiment, both – men and women – were asked to described the perfect machine of the future. Results showed that machines proposed by men were designed in order to get their owners to expand control and to become more powerful. The machines designed by women had an intention to help people and to make their life easier.
These differences in approaches to technological innovations show basic difference between male and female approaches in life. Men want to expand their influence and women are ready to adapt technologies and make their use easier and more comfortable for people. That is the reason men are more likely to invent new things and women are more likely to improve things which already exist. This division does not make men superior to women nor vice versa. It means that men and women possess different types of knowledge and skills and best results can be achieved in their combination. Until present moment women were underestimated in the computer industry. Little female IT specialists took part in the development of the hardware and software. “On the business side, a recent US Department of Labor study reports that women are not successfully moving beyond mid-management boundaries in this industry– in fact, there’s been only a 3% gain in the past 10 years “ (Abrams). Women are not presented in major CEOs and in the biggest companies which produce computers.
The National Assessments on Gender and STI report states that women still have worse access to information and technologies in comparison to men. Women’s role in the technological development is still badly defined. Technological resources are scantly used to support women’s activities and occupation. In addition, the percentage of women in science and technology is very low (Gender Equality in the Knowledge Society). “Women remain severely under-represented in engineering, physics and computer science — less than 30% in most countries – while the numbers of women working in these fields are also declining” (Gender Equality in the Knowledge Society). In addition, women have less access to different resources, which would help them to take leadership position and have active influence on social processes. Women usually have lower access to finances, property, education and technology. This is very true from the developing countries, but in the developed counties this tendency is also actual. This can be explained by several reasons. Generally, women who try to enter technology profession experience same difficulties as women trying to enter other fields. These difficulties include gender prejudgments, lack of female role models, difficulties in brining into line professional and personal responsibilities. Gender prejudgments assume common belief that women have less talents and inclinations when it comes to technologies and science. In addition, economic status and political power also play an important role in female parity in science and technology. Men occupy high position in the society and politics and have access to the distribution of resources. They influence the distribution of social roles, as well, and, naturally, they try to save status quo with male dominance in different spheres, and science and technology are not an exception. What is notable, women in the countries with good health care and childcare have more chances to enter the sphere of science and technology. In addition, countries where gender equality is considered to be the necessary component of the healthy society women also have more chances for normal self-expression in different fields. Gender equality usually assumes “the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men” (OSAGI, 2001). This equality should result in “equal conditions for realizing their full human rights and for contributing to, and benefiting from, economic, social, cultural and political development” (ILO, 2007). This equality assumes not only shared duties, but also equal access to resources and participation in their distribution. Nowadays, access to property is not enough for the equality .In the era of information, access to information can be even more important than access to property. Property distribution is important but it will not resolve the problem completely till women do not have equal access to information and technological resources.
The problems with gender inequality and lack of professional opportunities for women in STI sphere are especially evident in the developing countries. There are different steps which may help to resolve the problem. Informational policy is very important. Giving men and women necessary information concerning the problem can help to resolve it. Education should become another strong factor which influences the distribution of social roles and positions. It is necessary to make sure that women in the developing countries have equal with men access to quality education. Boys and girls have usually equal access to primary and secondary education, but the situation changes when it comes to higher education. Some changes in the curriculum would be useful to help girls and women to get more information about the STI sphere and create necessary conditions for their further employment in this sphere. In a lot of developing countries women have less access to higher education and it is necessary to put all possible effort to change the situation for better. As mentioned above, good healthcare and mother care become those factors which help to create better career opportunities for women. So, the development of healthcare and mother care systems will also contribute to the creating of better career opportunities for women.
Better informing and collecting precise statistics data can also make a contribution to the development of gender equality in science and technology. Information and statistical data will show areas where the problems still exist and specialists will have an opportunity to pay more attention to these spheres. After distinguishing problematic zones, it will be possible to find out possible reasons of low female participation and think about possible means to resolve these problems. Popularization of the women who make an important contribution to STI would also help to reduce the gender gap in this sphere. Mass media can help to pursue this goal.
Women play an important role in a lot of spheres in the contemporary society. They make great contribution to the development and improvement of life in a lot of spheres. Unfortunately, science and technology are the spheres where women do not have equal possibilities with men. There are a lot of possible explanations of this inequality, but gender bios, prejudices and unequal distribution of resources are among the main ones. Gender inequality in STI is more common in the developing countries. There are different ways to deal with the problem. Proper monitoring, proper informing and creating necessary work conditions should improve the situation in this field. Gender equality and normal work conditions for both, men and women are the characteristics of any normal society and it is necessary to pay attention to the problem of gender inequality in science and technology because this can be beneficial for the development of these spheres.
Do you like this essay?
Our writers can write a paper like this for you!