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WOMEN IN SCIENCE

06 Jul 2017Other Essays

There is an increasing concern in the last decade over the social norm regarding gender and its role in discrimination. The situation of treating males and females in different ways becomes much more complicated when ethnicity is strongly associated with gender discrimination. In particular instance, females of a specific ethnic group experience at least two forms of discrimination based of her race, gender, religious belief, age and social status. The term racism is strongly associated with hatred and prejudice of an individual’s identity including any aspects of his identity and sexual orientation hence females experience a different manner of discrimination. International groups such as the United Nations have regarded racial and gender discrimination as two independent issues resulting in females continuing to suffer from numerous types of injustices. It is thus essential that the gender component of racial discrimination be well understood in order to draw actions towards racial discrimination that are helpful to both males and females.

There are several instances when the issues of gender discrimination are interconnected with racial prejudice (Crenshaw KW, 2000). The interplay of these two concepts may take different modes and arise in different circumstances. One situation wherein gender is intertwined with the issue of racial discrimination is in terms of education (Sullivan, 1999). It has been discovered that the global literacy rate for women is significantly lower than that among men. The discrepancy in literacy rate between men and women is even greater in developing countries. More than half of out-of-school children are girls and that among illiterate adults, two-thirds are comprised by women. These gender-based illiteracy reports show that females have less access to educational resources which in turn results in a lower rate of participation in training programs. Such decrease in education restrains females in their full understanding and awareness of their legal rights, including the right to be employed and to own real estate properties (CHR, 2000). The access of females to education through attendance in school is also affected by circumstances of early pregnancy, childrearing and domestic family responsibilities. The lack or insufficiency of knowledge on reproductive health among women due to poor access to educational resources further hampers the living conditions of women. It is well-known that education is strongly correlated with employment options and financial stability, hence women are at a disadvantage with regards to availing such opportunities.

Another situation wherein gender discrimination can be observed is in the labor market. There is prejudice in particular labor practices wherein women in poorly developed areas or countries are restricted from equal chances of gaining employment. The situation becomes more complicated when these women come from a specific racial or indigenous group that is constantly being treated with prejudice. Now in order for these women to gain a living, they then opt to work in informal sectors which are not so strict with regards to race and gender. Unfortunately, these informal sectors are generally characterized by destitute working conditions, as well as provide minimum to no social protection and very small wages.

This situation thus results in minority women being categorized as the lowest of the labor group. In addition, informal labor sectors do not have strict laws with regards to employment hence the rates of abuse and violence is high. Women working in the informal labor sectors thus usually have poor physical conditions and are generally sick, either physically or mentally. In other situations, women migrate to another country to work as a domestic helper and are assigned to a specific employer. A domestic helper is expected to live in the residence of her employer but once the contract expires and the employer did not plan on renewing her contract, or when the employer was not satisfied with the performance of the domestic helper, she is immediately asked to leave the residence and the individual ends up homeless. This condition of living on the streets has a great chance of making a woman sick from exposure to the cold and from insufficient food and water. It has been reported that cases of firing or termination of contract of female domestic helpers has influenced world health. There are also cases wherein the female migrant domestic helper attempts to return to her home country but once she returns home, she is either very sick or already dead.

Another situation wherein gender is interconnected with racial discrimination can be observed among impoverished women. It has been estimated that approximately 1.3 billion individuals who are living in extreme need are women (UNDP, 2000). Such condition is strongly related to their inability to receive any form of education as well as training courses hence rendering them under-qualified for most of the available employment. Simultaneously, the trends of globalization and alteration in governmental laws have resulted in more problems for women because gender inequalities were exposed. One example can be observed among governments that do not provide unemployment insurance of single mothers or female heads of households. The merged effect of gender and racial discrimination may also hinder the retrieval of women to economic resources, including loans, credit and real estate property and can also affect the treatment they receive when they request for social services from the government. Such hardship thus endangers women to poverty and financial hardship.

Another situation involving the interplay of gender discrimination and world health is the gender-based violence such as physical and mental abuse (CEDAW, 2000). In this situation, females are more likely to experience more cases of violence because discrimination that is influenced by gender depicts females as the most defenseless elements of society. Inclusion of the concept of racial discrimination thus generates violence on females, making them twice at risk of violence. These kinds of circumstances tend to be more difficult because certain women from remote areas may be hesitant in reporting any violent incidents that they have experienced because they are concerned that no action will be performed with regards to their report or that their statement will be received with indifference or hostility. Certain members of the state may even disregard any reports of such type of violence for fear of being disgraced. It is unfortunate to know that in particular societies that follow a specific culture or religious tradition, gender-based violence is accepted by society. Any individuals who oppose such practices are usually charged for attempting to introduce Western culture to their traditional beliefs. There are other countries that treat gender-based violence as a ground for putting an individual in an asylum.

The most significant issues facing women doctors today involve balancing a professional career and fulfilling a personal goal of raising a family. For the past decades, it has been observed that women doctors are either single or divorced because it is very difficult to provide time and attention in maintaining a relationship with a partner and even more difficult in raising children. It should be understood that before a woman achieves the goal of being a doctor, she has to undergo rigorous training. The first level of training involves completing an undergraduate degree. The second level of training involves completing a medical degree which involves taking medical courses and undergoing a medical internship. The shortest duration in earning a medical degree, given a full-time schedule in medical school, is four years. There are some female medical students who are only studying on a part-time basis because they would also like to earn a living while studying.

The part-time status, unfortunately, prolongs a female medical student’s stay in medical school. After received a medical degree, a residency fellowship is often suggested in order to achieve a more specialized training in her field of medical practice. Each residency fellowship takes approximately 3 years. After residency, a medical doctor is also enticed to pursue a fellowship training which is important in providing additional experience in her medical field of specialization. Therefore, the total amount of time that is spent in order to become a well-trained medical doctor involves at least 15 years and this duration may affect a woman’s personal plans in marrying and having kids.

In Russia, it is significantly easier to earn a medical degree because each interested individual received equal chances of being accepted to graduate school. In addition, there is not discrimination of a medical school applicant based on the individual’s gender. Medical schools in Russia are also featured with financial assistance to qualified applicants, hence there is an incentive to the applicants and the medical students are driven to focus on their studies instead of worrying about where to get their funds to pay for the coming semesters and school years. Russian families also serve as a huge source of moral and technical support for a medical student. It is common to find the grandmother taking care of her grandchild while her daughter is pursuing a medical degree. This domestic type of support is very valuable in the life of a developing doctor. This also allows the female medical student to balance her time with her training and her personal life as a mother to her child and as a daughter to her mother. It is thus easier for a female Russian to pursue a medical career in her home country.

A suggestion that may be helpful to a female doctor is that she could insert portions of her personal life between stages of her training as a doctor. For example, as soon as she earns her medical degree, she can get married. Then after finishing one residency fellowship, she could have her first child. This setting may be followed in any country a female doctor resides in because the training schedule of a scientist is almost the same around the world. There may be differences such as the quality of medical equipment and fellowship stipend, but doctors still go through the same stages of training and development. In particular countries in the East, there may be discrimination against women obtaining a higher degree. It would be helpful if the female medical student ignores these kinds of discrimination and just concentrate on her studies. The female medical student may also opt to pursue her medical degree in another country that does not tolerate any gender discrimination and then she may return to her home country with her medical degree and residency and fellowship experience. A good example for this scenario is pursuing medical training in Russia, where the social climate is much friendlier to both types of genders.

References

  • Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Report to the General Assembly, 55th session, 1 May 2000 (A/55/38); and Contribution of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to the preparatory process and the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, 29 January 2001 (CEDAW/C/2001/ I/CRP.3/Add.9).
  • Commission on Human Rights (2000): Resolution 2000/13 on Women’s equal ownership of, access to and control over land and the equal rights to own property and to adequate housing, 17 April 2000 (E/CN.4/RES/2000/13) and (E/CN.4/RES/2001/34), 20 April 2001.
  • Crenshaw KW (2000): Gender-related aspects of race discrimination, background paper for Expert Meeting on Gender and Racial Discrimination, 21-24 Novem-ber 2000, Zagreb, Croatia (EM/GRD/ 2000/WP.1).
  • Sullivan D (1999): Trends in the Integration of Women’s Human Rights and Gender Analysis in the Activities of the Special Mechanisms, in Gender Integration into the Human Rights System: Report of the Workshop, 26 - 28 May 1999 (E/CN.4/2000/INFORMAL/).
  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2000): Poverty Report 2000: Overcoming Human Poverty.

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