What Do You Want To Be?
In 2017, the U.S. is still seeing a wage gap between men and women. Although this gap has narrowed immensely since 1980, it still persists. While the existence of the gender wage gap can be attributed to a handful of things such as career interruptions and gender discrimination, a 2017 research report by Glassdoor, points at college majors as being the root of the issue.
Glassdoor points to the idea that college majors are divided by gender. And this division of college majors puts men and women on different career paths, determining their career opportunities in the future. Due to the difference in career opportunities available, women experience a lower level in pay, thus contributing to the gender wage gap.
According to Glassdoor, nine of the 10 highest paying majors are male dominated whereas six of the 10 lowest-paying majors are female dominated. However, even when women are studying within the same major, they often end up on different career paths than men, ultimately resulting in a wage gap. Glassdoor’s sample testifies to this fact as in the 50 most common majors tested, men and women face about an 11.5 percent wage gap within the first five years of their careers. Ultimately, one’s choice of college major can have a huge impact on jobs and pay later on.
Women studying male-dominated majors often experience different treatment in the classroom compared to their male counterparts. Women studying in these fields often find themselves outnumbered in the classroom as well. Finding the strength or inspiration to continue in these male-dominated studies can often be difficult, but nonetheless many women persevere.
Here are the stories of five young women who chose to preserve, despite the odds they may face. Here are the stories from a future athletic trainer, accountant, pharmaceutical researcher, engineer, and U.S. Army Officer.
Courtney Cox is a junior studying athletic training at the University of Missouri. Growing up with three sports-obsessed brothers led Cox to love them as well. Cox chose her major because she loves helping people do what they love to do and loves being around sports. Cox says, “Being a female in a stereotypically male dominant field can be hard at times because you get the occasional male thinking you don’t know much about the sport itself or you are treated differently by a male athlete than a male athletic trainer or student would.”
However, she is optimistic. She says there is a visible trend in younger generations of women getting more involved and moving higher up in the National Athletic Training Association.
Being one of two females in her family, Cox is used to being tough and sticking up for herself. She says, “There are times I feel I need to prove myself more than my male counterparts but that makes me just work harder which I think will help me in the long run.”
Hannah Marcolla is a senior studying Masters of Accountancy at the University of Missouri. Marcolla says that since her father works in finance, she has always had a business orientated mindset. “I had never taken an accounting class until I got to Mizzou and it clicked with me right away. I took that as a good sign that this is a career I could thrive in.”
The University’s School of Accounting is ranked as the 13th Masters Program in the nation. Marcolla’s incoming class to the School of Accountancy was primarily male. She realized that when she looked around the classroom, she was one of seven girls in a 30 person class. She also noticed a lack of females when she was interviewing with firms for a summer internship. “Of the 10 partners I interviewed with, only one was female. While the ratio of males versus females does not effect me that much in my studies, it is discouraging when the majority of partners at large firms are male. If anything, it pushes me to change that statistic.”
Alyssa Anderson is a senior studying biology and chemistry at the University of Missouri. Anderson chose to go into this field because she wanted to do pharmaceutical research. Over the summer she worked as an intern doing vaccine research and development. This experience reassured her that she had found what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
Anderson says, “the main challenge I have faced in this field is just a continuous need to keep proving myself. Sometimes it feels like I have to work twice as hard to be given the same respect as men. I was also once told to wear my glasses because “they made me look smarter” which is something that no one would ever tell a man.
Anderson is the president of the campus based organization, MU Women in STEM. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The organization works to connect women in the STEM fields on campus and allows them to engage and support one another through the challenges they face. MU Women in STEM also builds partnerships with local high schools and middle schools to educate younger girls about careers they may not know about or feel confident enough to pursue.
Nina Peot is a sophomore studying biomedical engineering at the University of Missouri. Before attending the university, Peot wanted to go into physical therapy, but chose to pursue biomedical engineering after attending a youth leadership forum at the University of North Carolina. There she met a biomedical engineer who showed her his labs and his research towards those with physical disabilities. Peot says, “I wanted to be apart of that impact one day. Personally, I think it is the most rewarding when you can see the difference you are making for those who need things such as prosthetics or pace makers.”
Peot recognizes that the majority of her classmates in her biomedical engineering classes are men. She says, “It can be very intimidating but at the same time it can be empowering knowing that women can do what men do, contrary to some stereotypes.”
U.S. Army Officer
Kimmy Woods is a junior studying mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Missouri. Woods decided to study engineering because she wanted to be the minority, meaning she wanted to go against her odds to be successful and prove to people she could do it. Woods says, “what pushes me to continue is that I’m too proud to quit. To this day I won’t buy a Mizzou Engineering t-shirt because I want to earn it.”
Woods is also an active member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) on campus. She says, “Being a female motivates me to be successful. People are surprised when I can keep up with the boys in ROTC or do better. I’ll get that same reaction my entire life even though we are the same. I’m just trying to make everyone see that hard work and passion can get you anywhere.”
With ROTC, Woods has contracted, or made an obligation to serve in the Army for eight years after she graduates from the University of Missouri. She says being a female in ROTC, she is constantly judged for her gender. She says, "I realize how it can be more difficult for me but I just know that I have to work that much harder if I want to be taken seriously and looked at as an equal. We can do everything a guy can do and we deserve every opportunity. The Army has evolved but there will always be an extra hill I have to climb that men do not."