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Gender Discrimination Against Women: From Cradle to CEO

Childhood Stereotyping Sets the Stage for Challenges for Business Women

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Challenges for women begin in childhood. Young girls may be brought up to believe that they are only suited for certain professions or, in some cases, only to serve as wives and mothers.

Gender lines are drawn early, and exclusions for women continue throughout adulthood. These constant messages may lead to a false belief that women do not belong in the high-powered corporate world.

Elementary School

Studies show that teachers still give more time and attention in math and science to boys, while giving more to girls in language arts. Since math and science are vital skills for many male-dominated professions, like medicine, engineering, and architecture, does this encourage little girls to focus on other areas of learning? The divergence in academic path girls and boys choose after elementary would seem to indicate, yes.

Middle and High School Years

In middle and high school, girls are more likely than boys to be discouraged from participating in sports, and clubs like debate, math, and science. But girls are more likely to be encouraged to participate in after school volunteer work, social programs, and more passive activities.

College Years

After childhood, young women are often encouraged, or even pressured, into pursuing education in more stereotypical female-oriented professions, like teaching, nursing, care giving, retail, and office administration.

Women are now earning more degrees than men at every level, and with higher grades and honors. But women starting their own businesses are less likely to have a college degree in their specific industry, or first-profession degree, than are male entrepreneurs. They are also less likely to get a job in a Ph.D.-related field.

Statistics Show Trends Haven’t Changed Much, Yet

More women are starting businesses than men, more women are in the workforce than men, and the majority of degree-holders are now women. Yet, according to the Department of Labor 2007 statistics,women are still only dominating fields and industries that are often seen as “female.”

According to CNN Money, in 2006, there were only 10 women running Fortune 500 companies, and only 20 in the top 1,000. But it’s a start.

Sources:

Institute of Education Sciences. National Center for Education Statistics. United States Department of Education. Fast Facts. Accessed: April 22, 2008. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=72

Yupin Bae, Susan Choy, Claire Geddes, Jennifer Sable, and Thomas Snyder. “Educational Equity for Girls and Women NCES 2000–030.” U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2000.

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