I still remember learning in grade school that men were better at math and science, and women were better at English and art. The teacher (who was a woman), presented the information as a general fact—noting that these were just loose guidelines that could differ from person to person—and I didn’t question it for a second. You know, until I grew up a bit and realized the very premise was preposterous.
But as this infographic (which is really a narrative of sorts) shows us, it’s not enough to right the wrongs of gender perception when people grow older, the damage has already been done.
A lot of these facts are likely nuggets you’ve heard before, like girls performing worse on tests when they are required to mark their gender. But seeing each factoid lined up in pseudo-chronological order, from a grade schooler to a professional, it seems inevitable that women don’t stake their place in industries already dominated by men.
The picture is incomplete, of course. We don’t see how the comparative self-esteem of men evolves over the same time. But it’s safe to say that, when only 16% of students in engineering classes are women, we’re doing something wrong—especially when we can all benefit from some fresh perspective.
Twenty years or so after that day in grade school, I’m a writer and my wife is a scientist. I guess that, given these gender-professional norms, you could make a joke about who wears the pants in my family. But it could never offend either of us. No matter what we do, she’ll still be smarter than me anyway.
[Hat tip: Engineering Degree]
[Image: Library of Congress]