Sunday, December 20, 2015

The L'Oreal Women in Science initiative

"Much remains to be done with regard to gender balance in science. Most tellingly, women account for only 30% of the world’s researchers. There are still great barriers that discourage women from entering the profession and obstacles continue to block progress for those already in the field."

So complains the L'Oreal-UNESCO 'For Women in Science' initiative. Since 1998 this programme has "strived to support and recognize accomplished women researchers, to encourage more young women to enter the profession and to assist them once their careers are in progress," by means of awards, fellowships, and advertising campaigns declaring that 'Science Needs Women'.

In comparison, the plight of men employed in the nursing profession has received little attention. To place this in the type of quantitative context which should appeal to 'Women in Science', the UK Office for National Statistics compiles an Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), based upon a sample taken from HM Revenue and Customs' Pay As You Earn (PAYE) records. Amongst other information, this reveals the number of men and women employed in different professions. The 2015 results estimate that the number of men and women employed in nursing are as follows:

Women in nursing: 673,000

Men in nursing: 109,000

Hence, only 14% of nurses in the UK are men, a figure somewhat lower than the 30% of 'Women in Science' worldwide. This shocking gender imbalance suggests that men are systematically discouraged from entering the nursing profession, are discriminated against within the profession, and have their progress blocked within the field. 

Now, some people might argue that this is only natural because men have a tendency to be more aggressive and competitive than women, a characteristic which makes women rather more suited to the caring professions.

This, however, is merely one of the phony arguments used by the nursing matriarchy to preserve the pre-eminent status of women within the profession. Men have evolved by sexual selection to be more aggressive and competitive in order to make themselves more attractive to women, and thereby enhance their prospects of being chosen for mating. It is therefore women and their mating criteria which are ultimately responsible for the aggressive and competitive nature of men.

Hence, it is about time that L'Oreal expanded its concerns over professional gender imbalance, and initiated a range of awards and fellowships to assist the cause of Men in Nursing (MIN). If possible, the assistance of the BBC should be sought to promulgate a range of positive Male Nursing stereotypes within its programming; for example, all hospital scenes should feature male nurses in prominent roles, leading and directing their female colleagues.

But hold on: what's this on the L'Oreal website?

"More women scientists should also be able to obtain positions of responsibility, just like their male counterparts, so that future generations will have role models to inspire them. The current situation, however, indicates that, well into the third millennium, a considerable discrepancy exists between what society professes to believe and what we actually do."

The third millennium? The third millennium since what exactly? The 'Women in Science' will be able to tell you that Homo Sapiens have been around for approximately 1.8 million years, so that's about one thousand eight hundred millennia. Not three.

Perhaps we should only consider the period of time which has elapsed since Homo Sapiens made the transition from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to agriculture and settlement. But that would still be about 12,000 years, four times the number of millennia that L'Oreal are willing to acknowledge.

It's the type of error one would expect of a cosmetics-oriented organisation, rather than a scientifically-oriented one. Perhaps, then, we shall have to cast our net more widely to find a suitable sponsor for MIN...


Unknown said...

Have you been communicating with Tyson Fury?

Gordon McCabe said...

Tyson is well-known for his love of statistics, (particularly the coefficient of variation), and it pains him to learn of the endemic discriminaton suffered by Men in Nursing. However, Tyson has yet to master communication devices which work beyond line-of-sight, so direct contact between us is little more than a tantalising future prospect.