Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Why Women Can Excel in Nontraditional Jobs
An article published last week on Forbes.com "mythbusts" the idea that woman can't do math and science by pointing out that women executives with science degrees are leading some of the largest companies in the world. The article points out that women who earn Ph. D.s in science are as likely as their male counterparts to find teaching positions, promotions, and tenure at major universities. It also notes that girls now have academic parity with boys when it comes to math.
The question to ask, really, is when did we decide that women couldn't excel at math and science, as well as the nontraditional jobs that go with them? Throughout our history, women have excelled in performing heavy labor on a farm, in the fields, and in the home. During WWII, Rosie the Riveter became well known as the symbol of working women, and is held up as an example even today. Math and science skills are important in every job, and men are just as likely as women to need additional job training that focuses on math for more technical occupations.
In a recent presentation, PathWays PA showed organizations interested in training workers for "green jobs" why it is so important to include women.
Plenty of myths abound to "show" why women can't do nontraditional jobs. What these myths ignore is that women already do many of these jobs at home when they patch ceilings, fix leaky faucets, and take on other home repairs. Women are strong enough to do heavy labor, and they have the science and math skills to take on the technical aspects of a job. Plus, since women often are left doing "women's work" which pays much less than a traditionally "male" job, they have additional motivation to succeed.
Women can succeed in nontraditional work (and have already done so). Let's make sure they get the opportunity through green jobs initiatives over the next few years.