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Gender and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

This paper presents a critical review of two articles by Wynn and Correll (2018) and Ford and Wajcman (2017) that broadly discusses the concept of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and gender. The paper gives a summary of the main arguments presented in each article followed with the discussion of the positive contributions as well as contradictions evident in the papers. A comparison and contrast of the content and approaches presented in the two articles is also presented. This paper also presents a discussion of the vital information that could have either been excluded or included in the papers. Wynn and Correll in their article posit that gender disparity is evident in the recruitment of women to take up careers in STEM fields. On the other hand, Ford and Wajcman argues that gender disparity is observed in Wikipedia platform where few women are involved in coming up with the content. Even though the two articles present different accounts of the gender issues in STEM, they present a similar view on the probable cause of gender disparity in the varying accounts. The complex sociotechnical expertise required and the “chilly” environment created during recruitment is the major cause of gender disparity in Wikipedia platform and STEM careers respectively.

Summary of the main arguments

The two articles titled “Puncturing the pipeline: Do technology companies alienate women in recruiting sessions” by Wynn and Correll and “‘Anyone can edit’, not everyone does: Wikipedia’s infrastructure and the gender gap” by Ford and Wajcman presents a discussion on the involvement of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Wynn and Correll in their paper acknowledge that there is gender disparity in the involvement of women in the STEM subjects and careers. The scholars argue that the environment created during the recruitment process of many technology companies bars the women from furthering their career in science and technology-based fields. Regardless of having excelled in these areas, the gender-imbalanced presenter roles, explicit use of gender stereotypes and reference to geek culture exhibited by the technology company representatives during the recruitment process, create a “chilly environment” to the women limiting their advancement in science and technology jobs.

Ford and Wajcman assert that gender disparity is also evident in Wikipedia editing tasks and contents. These scholars argue that, a gender divide is pervasive in Wikipedia, since majority of contributors to the platform are men. As such, women views on various issues have either been sidelined or excluded altogether from Wikipedia utopia. The inequity in choosing participants to execute the editing role or present their view is attributed to the perceptions on women lack of technical skills and the adversarial culture of the Wikipedia community. The platform of Wikipedia, its architecture allows only persons with vast experience to contribute to the discussions and contents in the said platform. The technocratic system of Wikipedia is presented as near exclusive male province, barring women from availing contents to the platform of taking-up editing role.

Critical Analysis

Arguments. Significant gender issues exist in science and technology. A number of scholars have presented their views on the role of women in STEM careers and the inequalities observed. According to Deemer et al more men than women are involved in the execution of roles or tasks in STEM field (150). Even though the lower number of women in such careers is attributed to their lack of knowledge and expertise, the two authors in the articles presented have brought out another perspective on the issue. According to Wynn and Correll the discriminatory and gender stereotype environment created by most technology based companies during their recruitment is the major cause for the lower representation of women in STEP careers (155). Regardless of having qualified for various STEM related jobs, the manner through which the recruitment process is done can scare women from advancing their careers in the field (Wynn and Correll 156). The company representations present the positions as masculine thus appealing to a limited range of men and literally no women. Besides, the qualification of women, the environment presented during the recruitment process also contributes to the gender disparity evident in STEM jobs.

Similarly, Ford and Wajcman have also emphasized the relevance of the environment in influencing gender inequality. Though from a different perspective, the authors argues that the nature of the Wikipedia platform and production rules is the major cause for the limited engagement of women in the knowledge institution (Ford and Wajcman 522). According to the scholars, a mastery of the technocratic system and the architecture of the platform are needed for one to attain an opportunity to make a contribution. Also, a positive social interaction with the system and other contributors is demanded for any content to be accepted (Ford and Wajcman 523). In essence, the system and policies of Wikipedia reflects a male-sphere that is difficult for women to penetrate. Similar to the views presented by Kim, Lee, Christensen and Merighi the content of these papers indicate that the systems environment has a major contribution to the issues of gender disparity in STEM. Unless there are significant changes in the environment of the systems presented, then the issue of gender inequality is likely to remain pervasive, especially, in Wikipedia contribution and advancement in STEM careers.

Methodology. The methodological approach adopted by the two groups of scholars differed. Wynn and Correll in their article adopted a method of data collection that resulted in the attainment of primary data. The authors observed 84 recruiting sessions to analyze the questions, actions and behaviors of the company representative when recruiting individuals to take up the STEM jobs. This approach was effective in ensuring that the researchers achieve first-hand information on the issue of gender and advancement in science and technology careers. On the contrary, Ford and Wajcman study was overly based on secondary data. The information on Wikipedia infrastructure as well as the nature of Wikipedia software was obtained purely from past information researched and documented by previous scholars. Primary data are more informative and gives original quality information without any form or bias from third party. The possibility of achieving more accurate and reliable data is higher when a researcher using a data collection method that results in the attainment of primary data.

However, this is not to say that all secondary data gathered in various studies are of poor quality. According to Johnston the quality and reliability of secondary data can be attained, through proper analysis of the raw data to enhance the consistency and reliability of the final findings attained (620). Ford and Wajcman in their article did not only fail to discuss their methodological approach, but did not also point out the data analysis method employed to ensure the final data is of maximum quality. As such, the credibility of the information presented remains questionable. A detailed description of the data collection and analysis process would not only improve the flow of the work but would also influence positively the perceptions of the readers on the quality, credibility and the findings presented on the architecture, system structure and Wikipedia software and its consequent impact on gender disparity.

The conclusion of the two articles gives a comprehensive summary of the arguments presented by the scholars in the article. Ford and Wajcman in their conclusion have not only restated their argument but have also presented a summary of their findings. Similarly, Wynn and Correll gave an account of their findings as well as the goal of the paper. Contrary to Ford and Wajcman, Wynn and Correll in their article went ahead to state the limitation of the study, as well as recommendation for further studies. The authors indicated that their study failed to incorporate the reactions of women to the company presentations. While these data would have been useful in enhancing the knowledge on how the presentations makes women reluctant to take up STEM careers, the paper only relied on the observation data. According to Johnston study limitations are important since they give directions on probable future studies as well as possible weaknesses of the study (621).  The reader is informed on the study loopholes that should be filled to make the study findings more authentic. There are certain issues such as the perceptions of women in the complexity of the Wikipedia platform that were not comprehensively discussed in the article. This ought to have been included as limitations of the study to make the research findings more dependable.

Despite the comprehensive information availed in the two articles the structure employed by the researchers is not typical of the recommended article organization. The authors should have clearly identified the goals and objectives of the paper, followed with a background information section to discuss the theoretical underpinnings that informed the study. A description of the methodological approach and the data analysis procedure is also necessary to enhance the flow of the information being presented. To some extent the article by Ford and Wajcman had included the vital sections of an article paper, however, the scholars failed to describe the research methods. Wynn and Correll however, did not have the desired articles structure presenting a challenge to the readers to navigate through the paper content.


While the two articles present different accounts of danger disparity in STEM, the content availed shows that the complexity of the technology environments/platforms contributes to exclusion of women to advance their careers or make contributions in the field. The findings presented by the scholars adequately addressed the issue of gender in STEM, specifically gender inequalities in STEM careers and Wikipedia content contributions. Nevertheless, the findings would have been perceived to more credible when the authors presented a detailed description of the data collection and analysis methods.

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