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Gender in the Work Place
December 2000

Q. I am a final year student at the University of Portsmouth, studying Information Technology and Society. For my dissertation I am researching Brain Gender, and the consequences it holds for the workplace and IT. Do you think women can ever achieve equality in the workplace--in areas such as technology, engineering etc.--typically male dominated areas, when our brains are wired differently and our area of skills vary? I would appreciate your view on this subject and whether you could recommend any relevant web pages.

A. Your question is very interesting. Although there has been much speculation and stereotyping about gender and its association with intellectual ability, namely that females are better at verbal/writing skills and that males are better at math/technology skills, I do not think that the literature supports this. Included as a reference is a study looking at mathematical skills of 5th through 8th graders. There was no difference in performance between genders.

I do believe however, that there may be a lot of parental/societal bias that pushes women away from trying to achieve highly in mathematical areas and toward pursuing more literary expertise. Of course, I think this is gradually changing as it becomes more apparent that women can do just as well as men in math, science and other technological areas. Go girl!

Ref: SOURCE: J Soc Psychol 1999 Dec;139(6):677-89 CITATION IDS: PMID: 10646303 UI: 20111781

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