‘Why doesn’t your husband just let you stay home?’ As Marie Claire launches Women in Tech week, we look at some of the primitive stereotypes still being levelled against women in STEM careers.
Join Marie Claire and Entrepreneur First on Friday 12th Feb at 1pm for a special STEM panel in light of National Women and Girls in Science day. Editor in Chief of Marie Claire, Andrea Thompson, and Co-founder of Entrepreneur First, Alice Bentick, speak to a host of successful female founders who are making waves across their industries.
It's Women in Tech week here at Marie Claire. In honour of International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, all this week we’ll be sharing stories from the incredible women changing the face of the STEM industries. And while there's plenty of positive change afoot, women in STEM are still facing (laughably) primitive prejudices from inside their own industry.
Despite being some of the top minds of their time, female engineers and mathematicians often find themselves spoken down to by male counterparts, whether it's being complimented on wardrobe choices rather than business acumen or being given coffee orders instead of respect.
In an effort to bring attention to the gender inequality in STEM and to improve working conditions for the women in the industry, oil company Shell spoke to female engineers, asking them to recall some of the shocking things that are said to them on a daily basis.
The result was very powerful.
‘Those clothes don’t make you look good - are you putting on weight or something?’, one female engineer recalled being told, while another was greeted with the line, 'Nice dress Sarah - good to see that you’re making an effort.'
But they weren't all appearance-based, with other female engineers recalling being told, 'You don’t want to be an engineer - that’s a man’s job’, while another was asked, '‘Why doesn’t your husband just let you stay home?’.
Over time gender bias can push women out of engineering and technology, and that is what needs to change. Shell are asking why is it we encourage young girls but often discourage educated women?
Here are some of the gender-based put downs that these top females in STEM have encountered...
‘She only got the position because she’s a woman’
‘Hey sweetie, when you’ve got a minute, I’ll have a cup of coffee’
‘You got promoted too?!’
‘File that for me - there’s a good girl’
‘We won’t tip-toe around you because you’re a woman you know. You still have to put in the same amount of work’
‘So I guess you’ll be starting a family soon, ay?’
‘Hey guys, no swearing there’s a woman in the room’
‘I don’t think this university is ready for a female president?’
‘Are you sure you’ll be able to handle this course? It’s quite advanced…’
‘We’ll do the more technical stuff, and you can take notes ok?’
There is a need for change - that is clear - and it looks like the female engineers of the future might be the one's to bridge the gap.
'And what would you say, if you heard someone say these things?' a young girl was asked in the video, to which she replied, 'I would say, "Why would you say something like that? I can do whatever you can do. And even if you do think that, we women will show you that we can do it."'
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Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.
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