My experience as a woman in a male-dominated field


Judge Judy and Katie Couric in the 2013 interview

As a woman majoring in political science, I have often found myself in a situation where I am only one of two or three other women in a class. Occasionally, I am even the single woman in a class. I’ve been told, mainly indirectly, and mostly by men in these fields, that I must feel discriminated against or oppressed because of it. They often bring up the fact I am so often a minority in my classes as if it is some kind of cause for change–as if it shows something inherently wrong with the system. And, despite seeing the exact opposite of gender proportions in my psychology classes, I’ve yet to see anyone comment on how oppressed men should feel in the field.

Rather than acknowledge that men and women may have naturally different interests, men, as well as women that do not work or study in male-majority fields, love to discuss amongst themselves how pitifully discriminated against women like myself must feel. In my own experience, the words and beliefs of the actual women in these positions are often overlooked.

“I wasn’t a woman lawyer, I was a lawyer that happened to be a woman,” said Judy Sheindlin, better known as Judge Judy, during an interview with Katie Couric. In a 2014 article with LAWeekly, Rebecca Sugar has said she hasn’t experienced any discrimination as a woman in the animation world, despite having the title of Cartoon Network’s first solo female show creator. I’ve heard many examples similar to this; a late-night radio show interviewing the first female craft beer brewer in a given state I can’t recall, who explains that as long as you work hard, men take you seriously. A RadioLab podcast on a transgender gondola worker that, even before transitioning, was only treated respectfully by his male peers until articles written about him as the ‘first female gondola worker’ made them believe he thought he was better than them. Even a very liberal woman, comic artist Kate Leth, has written a strip regarding what it’s like being a woman in comics: “It’s like being a man in comics. Except, with a vagina.”

This is not to say discrimination in these areas does not exist. It very well can, and where it exists it must be acknowledged, especially in terms of sexual assault and harassment. Yet I can’t help but think that young girls constantly being told they should feel oppressed simply for existing in male-dominated fields is only going to succeed in pushing them away further.