8 August 2018

South Africa: Engineering CEO's Views Reveal Half-Baked Assumptions About Male and Female Difference


The CEO of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering has been slammed for an article in which he states that women are "predisposed" towards choosing "caring" professions rather than entering technical fields as men do. Manglin Pillay misrepresents the research on which his argument is based - but the whole debate also reveals an ongoing confusion between nature and nurture when it comes to the supposed differences between men and women.

"Should we be investing so heavily in attracting women into STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] careers?"

That's the question that Manglin Pillay, CEO of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering, poses in a recent column written in his professional capacity.

The root of his scepticism is research published in Psychological Science earlier in 2018, which Pillay says that women in "gender equal societies prefer to choose care or people orientated careers while men tend to choose careers that orient them to things and mechanics".

This presents what Pillay describes as a "conundrum": why spend time and money trying to lure women towards STEM, when the evidence is "pointing to women being predisposed to caring and people careers"?

The backlash has...

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