In Science and Technology
In our world today, we pride ourselves with modern scientific advancement and cutting-edge technology. Thus, the field of science and technology is a crucial and exciting area which paths new roads and even moulds the future which we envision. In this article, we shall not focus too much on the partial welfare treatments, glass ceilings or struggle of power of both the sexes in the industries of research, computer science or even the dotcom industry for this can be classified under Developed Countries - in the Workplace and at Home. What we will be exploring then, is the relationship between science and technology and, an egalitarian society. This essay will also serve as a pre-text for subsequent essays (Developed Countries- In Politics; In the Workplace and At Home).
The Larger Picture
Before we do so, let us sidetrack a little and look slightly back in time. Science and technology right up till before Modernization were explored together with or included the arts of healing, alchemy, mathematics, astronomy and even philosophy. The old world was patriarchal, as we have found out and established before. We know that the age-old struggle was still pretty much one-sided. Perhaps through family ties or with wealth, women had access to such knowledge and research. For example, Theano, who was the wife of Pythagoras, was a natural philosopher in ancient Greece. Powerful women such as Empress Shi Dun of China, together with Tsai Lun, developed the first paper made from the bark of the mulberry tree. The mystical "healing powers" of some women gave them respect and even some form of power as well.
Even though women had managed to fare better in the realms of science and technology, women who were able to practice it or learn it were not widespread and common. It was only up till the 18-19th century when we had an "explosion" of female scientists and researchers such as Christine Kirch, Elizabeth Fulhame and Elizabeth Blackwell etc. However, what we can see from this is that beyond men's physical strength, in the game of the intellect, men and women have a more equal playing ground.
All thanks to science and technology, we have entered a competition of skilled labour and knowledge rather than that of physical strength. You see, Industrialization led to Modernization. But it was science and technology which gave rise to Industrialization. With the minds and hands of Isaac Newton, James Watt and Adam Smith, science and technology propelled Industralisation in Britain. Specifically, Isaac Newton quickened the scientific revolution; Adam Smith gave us the "Wealth of Nations" and using the Scientific Method, he taught us competition and capitalism which our modern economy is based on; James Watt opened the doors of Industrialization with his steam engine.
The competition of skilled labour and knowledge simply means that increasingly, people demand efficiency and quality. These can only be achieved through machines. Thus, new inventions and technologies are vital. What this then means is that in the face of science and technology, a lot of the differences between the two sexes are blurred.
Science and technology is so innate in our everyday lives that everyone in our modern world cannot live without it. It is almost like bread and butter. We use it for both work and play. The fact that both the development and usage of science or technology requires the mind equates to the fact that the old social formula or gender roles of men and women do not apply here at all. It is not necessary and in fact, inapplicable.
As users of Information Technology, we are aware that we do not know for such who you are talking to over MSN messenger. Nor do we know for certain the authors of blogs or podcasts on the internet. Most definitely, we do not know if that person is a male or female. Unless we are looking for a date, we are not that bothered by it.
As of Now
Of course, it is too naïve to believe that science and technology gives us a perfect egalitarian society, and that, the age-old struggle has finally ended. The problem which the science and technology face now is the small pool of women professionals. This certainly stems from the limited opportunities or lack of interest which girls have in schools as math and science are not considered a "sexy or visible" subject.
A Personal Experience
I had the privilege to be part of a school trip to Silicon Valley in 2007. As I was from an all-girls school, our teachers requested more female presenters from Google, Oracle and Adobe etc to give presentations to us. I believe that was done to better inspire more students and certainly to anchor and further sustain their beliefs that it is possible for us to enter this industry. Certainly, what I have seen and realised is that the IT industry is more male dominated as a whole, but it is accessible to females. This does not mean to say that females take up all the administrative and PR roles while the males do the engineering and technical aspects. In fact, men and women need to be present for both the business and technical sides to form a balanced and strong team. What then we need to do is to smash the stereotypes that science and technology is not "sexy" because it is an exciting field that is open for all. Last but not least, it is certainly a realistic option as well.
Both men and women are human beings, after all. Discrimination and distinctions still exist in politics, the workplace and even at home. Women scientists and engineers still face glass ceilings in some developed countries. However, what we are trying to bring across is that science and technology have ushered in a new era for change which we should take advantage of: Re-evaluate the old social order and create a new one that deems fit for us all.