Esta publicación también está disponible en: Español
Ever since I was little I was told that I was free to choose what I wanted to do. I was told that picking a college major wasn’t contingent upon my gender, my social status, or where I was born. When I grew up I realized that the world is different from what it should be, that there are jobs that have a “female” or “male” label. When I moved to Guanacaste, I began live this through the stories of Guanacastecan women.
The sociologist María José Chaves of CEFEMINA (in English, the Feminist Center for Information and Action) tells me that these stereotypes are generally attributed to chauvinism, but that all of us create a culture: that all of us are a little responsible for what’s going on.
“If we continue segregating women and men in specific jobs it’s because we aren’t doing anything to change it,” she told me when I met with her to determine which was the best way to portray this reality in photographs.
With her, we decided to show how there are women in Guanacaste who work in traditionally masculine jobs. We want Guanacastecan women to find new models to follow and for them to feel invited to work in whatever they want: that stereotypes don’t factor into their decisions, as they didn’t in mine.
That more women pursue careers that are usually filled with men isn’t just an individual benefit; it’s a collective one. According to a study published by the University of Stanford in 2016, if women participate the same way men do in the economy, a community’s annual economic growth could increase by as much as 26%.
“The most innovative and best paid jobs are the ones our youth are turning their backs on,” says the Minister of the Condition of the Women, Alejandra Mora Mora, on the National Institute for Women’s website.
If we want more women working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, educational systems must promote access for women both in the academic and professional realms, states a study by the International Work Organization on women’s work in 2016.
Chaves feels that we can’t leave the responsibility to the institutions that train professionals. “You don’t need a sign that reads ‘No women allowed’ in an appliance repair shop for women not to feel welcome. Just a colleague’s glance, friends’ comments, or a family’s jokes are enough.”