A Study on Gender Stereotypes in the Pursuit of an Educational Career in California Polytechnic State University

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Aquick Google search will give you the definition of sociology as “the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society.” The purpose of studying these aspects of society is to identify social problems and determine methods to effectively address them On their site, the Cal Poly Social Science Department states that sociology majors “receive training in applied technical skills including social data collection and research design and are encouraged to critically investigate contemporary issues,” and offers students three distinct ways to apply their training in the form of minors: Social Services, Criminal Justice, and Organizations. These concentrations outfit students with the knowledge necessary to create positive local (Social Services), institutional (Criminal Justice), and global (Organizations) social change. However, positive social change is not possible without the participation, understanding, and consensus of those involved.

The current gender disparity in the field of sociology is especially problematic because it can lead to the feminization of social work and a subsequent devaluing of the work they do. If social problems as a whole are feminized as “women’s problems” it could be much more difficult to gain the understanding and consensus of the male population when enacting social change. In the hopes of gaining a better understanding of this issue we asked: Why is there a gender disparity in Sociology? Strategies/Methods Our participant observations as a whole were not very telling. This may be a result of the nature of our question, and lack of settings to observe large groups of sociology students, For our first interview, we chose to interview a Cal Poly sociology professor.

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This interview in the professor’s office during her office hours. This setting was a due to the availability of our participant as a result of her demanding schedule. Although the participant held a higher authority, the interview was natural, allowing for a comfortable setting to discuss the topics. This was an easy decision to make due to our prior knowledge of her career history in the field of sociology She studied biology and sociology in college and later became a social worker. Following this, she opened her own private practice and became a professor at Cal Poly. Our second interview was also a professor> this one however with a different history in the sociology field. She is fairly new to Cal Poly and has previously worked at a university out of state in Iowa, she has taken the role of educating and raising awareness for ongoing human trafficking as well as collaborated with the CIA and state police to combat human trafficking.

From an emic perspective, meeting with professors in the major has always been a very comfortable and welcoming experience to us. However, from an etic perspective, interactions with professors aren’t always so pleasant, For example, prior to switching to sociology, the CAFES professors and advisors one of our members met with to discuss academics were not as friendly or appeared to be enthusiastic compared to the experiences with his sociology professors. In addition to getting the perspective of a trained professional, we also wanted the student perspective. Since our research question concerns gender, we interviewed a female and male sociology student. Their experience ranged from a 3rd third year with intern experience to a second year with very little experience While Sociology is also very white at Cal Poly, they were both Latino. All these points of authority allowed for very interesting and varied perceptions of the field.

Interest in learning about the other cultures and the diversity in our society helped guide one of our members into his decision of switching his major to sociology from agriculture communication. After researching, interviewing, comparing, and analyzing, this project raised insight to his privileges as a white male in our society. Data Analysis Claimst From the data we gathered, several themes emerged. Our data confirmed that the liberal arts college is predominately female, In our student interviews, we observed some differences in the rhetoric they used to explain their motivations to join the field While the male’s motivation was “being a good person” the female’s motivation was “helping people”. This sheds light on how gendered socialization can unconsciously influence which field students chose. The male interviewee also had a much more pessimistic view of the field.

The views seemed to be related to the low pay and low prestige associated with the field. This is a result of how society rewards men for being aggressive and getting ahead We noticed that our culture’s gender ideology encourages females to join the field while discouraging males to join. Yet ironically, males that are in the field move up the chain faster and more often. The inconsistency between the lack of males in the field yet the feasibility that they should move up the field compels us to believe that sociology is belittled by society only because it is predominantly overrun by women Our gender ideology promotes the self—fulfilling prophecy due to our culture’s notion of women being more patient, nurturing, and better at communicating. On the other hand, males in our society are stereotyped to be strong and are discouraged from showing their emotions.

The latter ideas could be due to the belief that women are not as capable as men in taking on leadership roles, These stereotypes of men and women, which are predominant in our culture, create an uneven distribution of power based on gender, Contributions Much gender-related abuse, discrimination, and maltreatment has occurred throughout the course of history due to a lack of knowledge about the issues We believe that it is important to share with people in our major that our gender ideologies could be influencing the gender disparities within our colleges Additionally, it is essential to educate students about the fact that males move up the chain faster and more often in the sociology field. From this information, students in our college can work toward bridging our societal gender gaps.

From an etic perspective, our research can be used to unify our society in all facets It illustrates the discrepancies between genders and how stereotypes affect an individual in the workforce. Men and women have polar opinions about what an “everyday“ work day looks like and it is because of the current unequal distribution of opportunities between the sexes. This data can be applied to our gender roles in society today so that we can work toward a more unified culture with fewer presumptions Often times we have heard people say the phrase “Women’s rights is a woman’s issue” while in reality we believe it also to be a men’s issue. If we want to see change happen we need to understand that we need to be part of that same change. Our findings can be used to educate students at Cal Poly about gender stereotypes in relation to chosen fields of study, With this information, we can encourage students to pursue the degree which they truly desire, without allowing any stereotypes to prevent them from doing so. This will ultimately promote diversity throughout the university and its various degree programs.

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A Study on Gender Stereotypes in the Pursuit of an Educational Career in California Polytechnic State University. (2023, May 20). Retrieved from


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