Some Industries Are Still Lacking Women, but Female Professionals Can Help

Photo from Unsplash

Despite all the ways in which young women are shifting perceived social bias in the workplace, there are still many careers and industries that remain unbalanced.

That’s because biases take a long time to evolve — adolescents growing up in a patriarchal society take their clues about the world of work from their environment and caregivers. They’re still receiving highly gendered messages — that caregivers, teachers, and secretaries are in female roles, while science, technology, and leadership roles are male positions associated with prestige and high earnings potential.

While the media is full of progressive messages about what women can do, many young girls still in school haven’t yet decided on a career and are considering options based on their interests. If they haven’t been exposed to scientific and technical careers, they’re less likely to self-report an interest in those job paths — after all, it’s hard to be interested in something that you know nothing about.

How Exposure Affects Aptitude Perception

Recent research has produced some important findings about the way young men and women perceive their fit for different careers.

The study found that self-reported interest scores, which dominate career guidance efforts, can limit a young woman’s career potential. These interest-based surveys reinforce social bias and take these young women out of contention for high-wage, high-demand career possibilities by narrowing their vision toward traditional roles to which they’ve been exposed.

The positive news is that the study also found that aptitude fit across all industries was comparable between boys and girls. That is, young women and men have equal talent, understanding, and potential to succeed in technical careers, regardless of gender. If natural aptitudes were made a bigger part of career guidance and adolescents had broader exposure to women in a wide variety of careers, they would likely make different decisions.

States that are becoming aware of this “exposure bias” limitation are shifting their focus and are having great success. Georgia, for example, is using its Perkins dollars to fund an aptitude-based assessment called YouScience. The program is designed to identify students with the aptitude for underrepresented pathways, such as young women for technology fields who might not even know they have an inclination for tech.

Armed with this information, how can female professionals help other young women increase their exposure to amazing careers? There are a few things you can do:

1. Advocate for Aptitude

Aptitudes aren’t determined by exposure or tradition; they are natural talents and a great indicator of how well someone will perform in a particular career. But women can go their entire lives without realizing they have an aptitude for high-demand, high-paying careers in industries like technology, engineering, or construction because they were never given the chance to explore those fields. Aptitude testing has long been ignored in career development in schools and hiring departments — but that’s changing.

Women have the power to change this status quo. The first step is to take the aptitude assessments yourself and familiarize your counterparts — especially your male ones — with the advantages of using aptitudes to uncover talent.

2. Seek and Serve as Mentors

Get involved with programs and education facilities near you. Meet with career advisors and counselors and ask to be introduced to young women with aptitudes similar to your own. Explain “exposure bias” to help others recognize factors limiting their options.

A strong mentorship network is vital for connecting the next generation of women to their potential. Female professionals can expose other women to new possibilities in historically male-dominated careers. They can share the truth — backed by data — that women leaders in Fortune 1000 and S&P 500 companies actually earn higher ROI for their businesses.

3. Look for Opportunities to Strengthen Your Talents

Practice what you preach by looking outside your wheelhouse to develop and hone skills adjacent to your aptitudes. Accountancy is a learned skill; numerical reasoning is an aptitude that is critical to the speed and accuracy of learning accountancy. Seek opportunities to grow your skills both inside and outside of work. By expanding your own potential, you’ll be able to model and help younger women expand theirs.

There are plenty of free or low-cost resources out there for self-training, like Lynda. Once you’ve explored them, you can encourage young women around you to do the same. Help women apply for a scholarship to local events like space camp or join an online STEM Girls network. Gaining new experiences and building technical skills expands exposure, and it also helps women align with the economy’s needs.

All industries are stronger when filled with talented, passionate people, and all people have a greater chance of success and happiness when they’re pursuing a path that uses their competitive advantage. It’s up to all of us to make that ideal a reality.

Rich Feller, Ph.D., is a Professor of Counseling and Career Development and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar Emeritus at Colorado State University. Previously, Dr. Feller served as president of the National Career Development Association.

86 COMMENTS

  1. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Genuinely rarely should i encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you may have hit the nail about the head. Your idea is outstanding; the problem is an element that insufficient persons are speaking intelligently about. I am delighted we came across this during my look for something with this.

  2. Hello there I am so grateful I found your web site, I really found you
    by mistake, while I was searching on Askjeeve
    for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a fantastic post and
    a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to
    look over it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and
    also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up
    the great job.

  3. I used to be recommended this blog by means of my cousin. I’m not certain whether or not this publish
    is written by him as no one else recognise such detailed about my trouble.
    You are incredible! Thanks!

  4. Hey! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came
    to give it a look. I’m definitely enjoying
    the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Wonderful blog and superb design and style.

  5. Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing
    months of hard work due to no back up. Do you have any methods to
    stop hackers?

  6. Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

  7. I’ve been exploring for a little for any high-quality articles or blog posts on this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this web site. Reading this info So i am happy to convey that I’ve a very good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I most certainly will make certain to don’t forget this website and give it a look on a constant basis.

  8. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your content seem to be running off the screen in Internet explorer. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem resolved soon. Cheers

  9. After study a couple of of the blog posts on your website now, and I really like your manner of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark web site listing and will likely be checking back soon. Pls try my web site as well and let me know what you think.

  10. I simply couldn’t depart your website before suggesting that I really enjoyed the standard info a person provide for your visitors? Is going to be back often to investigate cross-check new posts

  11. whoah this blog is great i really like reading your posts. Stay up the good paintings! You know, many individuals are hunting round for this info, you could aid them greatly.

  12. Nice read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he just bought me lunch since I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

  13. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this excellent blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will talk about this website with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

  14. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  15. You could definitely see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

  16. Wow! This could be one particular of the most beneficial blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Fantastic. I’m also a specialist in this topic so I can understand your effort.

  17. I was very pleased to find this web-site.I wanted to thanks for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

  18. What’s Happening i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It positively useful and it has aided me out loads. I hope to give a contribution & assist other customers like its aided me. Good job.

  19. Can I just say what a reduction to search out somebody who truly knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You positively know methods to carry a difficulty to mild and make it important. Extra folks must read this and perceive this facet of the story. I cant imagine youre no more widespread since you undoubtedly have the gift.

  20. Can I simply say what a relief to find someone who truly is aware of what theyre talking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know how one can bring a problem to mild and make it important. Extra people need to read this and perceive this aspect of the story. I cant imagine youre no more popular because you positively have the gift.

  21. Greetings from Los angeles! I’m bored at work so I decided to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, awesome site!

  22. I have been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  23. Does your site have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to send you an e-mail.
    I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing.
    Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it improve over time.

  24. you’re in reality a excellent webmaster. The website loading speed is incredible. It seems that you are doing any distinctive trick. Also, The contents are masterwork. you have performed a wonderful activity in this topic!

  25. Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing for your rss feed and I am hoping you write once more very soon!

  26. I’m not sure why but this weblog is loading incredibly slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end? I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

  27. Howdy I am so glad I found your blog, I really found you by accident, while I was looking on Aol for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a marvelous post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all at the minute but I have saved it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the great job.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here