Choosing an academic major, the students make one of the most important decisions in life. It is a complicated issue which is influenced by a number of aspects where gender one is the most significant. Such issue includes the psychological process of selecting the academic majors from the position of the gender stereotypes. Although gender rights and ability to choose the education and work are equal in the modern society, the gender aspect is still has a serious impact on the people’s choice, including the choice of college major.
Thus, according to the most widely spread stereotypes, girls rather choose humanities than technical majors or math, while boys prefer the sciences, technical subjects and IT. However, I think that the statement that girls and boys have the different ability to study technical subjects is incorrect due to a number of examples of successful women-scientists.
It is the absolutely illogical position, as the present aspect is based on the personal skills and inborn patterns. Therefore, analyzing the current situation within the educational system from the position of the gender stereotypes, it is necessary to develop the solution which should step-by-step improve the situation.
The most appropriate measures are the providing of the seminars for school students when the teachers could emphasize an importance of the personal choice in spite of the stereotyped opinions. As the students will comprehend that the decision-making process should be independent and based on the personal skills and desires, they will choose those majors which can help them to increase the inborn talent.
Therefore, it is necessary to change the stereotypical view of the gender definition of the sciences, developing the governmental programs which would guarantee the equality of every students no matter of gender and to provide the lessons and seminars for students, indicating and unmasking the gender stereotypes as a cause of the significant impact on the process of choosing a major.
It is obvious that the choice of a major is a one of the most important decisions in life. St. John says that “there is, perhaps, no college decision that is more thought-provoking, gut wrenching and rest-of-your life oriented – or disoriented – than the choice of a major” (22).
Most of the students make their choice not only because they do not want to study math or languages or, vice versa, they want to investigate the concrete subject. The foundation of the psychological aspects within the process of choosing a major indicates that the gender stereotypes have a significant influence on the students’ choice.
Thus, there is a widely spread belief in the society that boys are better in sciences and various technical subjects than girls. As it is a well-known fact that girls have more developed left cerebral hemisphere, while boys have right, many people suppose that girls should choose humanities such as literature, languages, psychology, etc. In every situation when the girl chooses the technical studies, math or chemistry, there are the doubts about an ability of female to cope with such sciences.
On the other hand, there is a stereotype than females are better teachers and psychologists than males due to the natural skills to comprehend the emotions and feeling of others and ability to teach children.
However, the simple analysis demonstrates than this statement is absolutely wrong, as there are different examples of the great male teachers. Besides, the majority of the famous psychologists are males. Therefore, I am sure of the necessity of explaining of this issue for students who is ready to make a choice of a major.
The present issue requires the development of the measures which could reduce the disbalance and stereotypes within the educational area. The research of this problem demonstrates than the issue needs more strict developmental solutions.
Many researchers emphasize that the gender stereotypes and gender equality are the parts of the international promoting programs which claim the importance of parity and the personal rights, including the choice of educational majors, in spite of the stereotypes. Thus, Subrahmanian says that gender parity and equality within the education are the international development goals (396). The author analyses the work of The Dakar Framework for Action which contains the gender-based goals.
First of all, it is necessary to eliminate the gender inequality on the different levels of educational system, including the primary and secondary education. According to the researcher, a gender perspective within the educational system includes such elements as “learning content, teaching method and process, subject choice, assessment modes, management of peer relationships and learning outcomes” (Subrahmanian 403). Thus, it is possible to notice that subject choice is one of the key elements of the gender equality.
According to Bennett et al., the current situation within the educational system demonstrates the presence of such characteristics as “politicians’ concerns for the country to remain globally competitive through scientific innovation delivered by a skilled workforce; lobbyists’ campaigns for equal rights for women employees; and female academics’ challenges to the cultures and practices of their own science disciplines” (2010).
Moreover, the authors emphasize the feminist perspective which has a significant support. From this point of view, there is no problem for the students to choose that major which they want no matter of gender.
However, as this situation is typical for United Kingdom and Ireland, a number of other world’s communities demonstrate the different statistics where the gender factor is significant. The researchers suggest the political debates as the one of the measures which can improve the problem of the gender stereotypes within the educational system.
All children should have the same access to the educational programs and subjects. Although this problem is not significant in the Western countries, it is one of the major aspects of the Eastern societies and especially in the Middle East where females have fewer abilities than males.
Providing of the equal access to the scientific disciplines will help students be more acquainted with the subjects and will help them to choose a major. Such problematic should be discussed on the various levels, including the ministers and governments and the national and international committees. As the ministries of education will comprehend the problem, they will develop the measures to improve the situation and to change the stereotypes.
I see the development of seminars and lessons in the schools as the major step of improvement of the situation. One of the solutions is the creation of a list of recommendations for students.
This list should include those elements which will emphasize the equality of males and females in the process of choice of a major and an importance of the personal skills and inborn talent as the basement of the choice. Besides, I would like to provide the particular examples, for instance, the successful male teachers and female-physicists. Such obvious examples are more effective and convincing than the theories.
Reading the information about the concrete scientists, the students will feel freer and more assured of their choice of a major. For instance, the information about Sofia Kovalevskaya and Marie Sklodowska-Curie among many other women-scientists will demonstrate that students should easily choose chemistry, math or physics as a major, in spite of the gender stereotypes.
At the same time, the information about successful male teachers or designers will help males to follow their desire to study such “female” disciplines as literature or art. Although it is a well-known fact that men are better chefs than women, most of the male students do not want to study this discipline, in spite of the skills and desire.
Besides, they are better fashion and interior designers. Although it seems absolutely female deal to teach children, cook and express the emotions, men can get more success as the teachers and artists. However, most of the time, they are scared to be mocked or misunderstood as well as girls are afraid to choose the technical majors and, as the result, to be misunderstood and do not be treated seriously.
The school seminars should demonstrate that both genders have the same rights within the choice of the academic programs and it is not shameful to follow the dreams. Moreover, it would be appropriate and effective to invite the practitioners form the different areas in order to show the students that it is possible to get the success in every field, in spite of gender.
As the result of the seminars, the students will be able to get the feedback from the professionals. Thereby, it is necessary to make those studies more practical than theoretical. As the theory can be good, while making the research and investigating the problem, the practical examples are more effective and convincing in the process of decision-making.
Considering gender as one of the major issues that has a significant impact on the process of choosing of an academic major by students, it is necessary to provide the measures which should improve this problem. Thus, the possible solution can be found in development of the educational programs by the governments which will guarantee the equal rights and parity within the educational system for all students.
This issue should be discussed within the political and social debates in order to improve the problem of the gender stereotypes as one of the key elements of choosing a major. It is necessary to provide the possibility of choosing any subject no matter of gender of the student. Besides, the school program should include the seminars and lectures where the students will be able to get the information about the different subjects which can be chosen as the majors.
Additionally, such seminars will provide an opportunity to learn about the particular examples of males and females who got the success in the various fields of science. As the students will get the chance to meet with the professionals, they will comprehend the necessity of the choice of a major, according to their natural talent and skill and no matter of gender.
Bennett, Cinnamon, Marina Larios, Louise Norman and Emma Parry 2010, Meta-analysis of gender and science research – Country group report: UK and Ireland countries. PDF file. 07 Mar. 2012.
St. John, E. “Majors.” Black Issues in Higher Education, 17.4 (2000): 21-27. Print.
Subrahmanian, Ramya. “Gender equalityin education: De?nitions and measurements.” International Journal of Educational Development 25 (2005): 395–407. Print.