‘’If it were customary to send little girls to school & teach them the same subjects are taught to boys they would learn just as fully & would understand the subtleties of all arts & sciences’’.

(Christine De Pizan)

The binary categorization of ‘’Mardana & Zanana’’ is not merely prevalent in dressing styles or emotional expression, but also in the subjects and jobs, they opt for. The masculinized job sectors predominantly encompass armed forces & engineering. Contrastingly, feminized ones are healthcare & home-based personal care workers. In selecting study majors, boys traditionally go for science & mathematics, while girls go for arts & humanities.

Following the report of World Economic Forum, females constitute merely 4.9% of engineers in Pakistan. UNESCO reports, there are 21% of women in the field of engineering at the university level. As reported by Zippia demographics in the year 2022, there are only 35.2% of male psychologists in the US. These statistics demonstrate that gendered professions are widespread regardless of geographical boundaries. The DAWN Newspaper of July 2022, states that on the Gender gap index of the year 2022, Pakistan proceeds to be on second to last in deracinating this career cleave based gender status-quo.

Reflecting on my subject selection and what the majority of my female colleagues opted for lies in the health sector. Being a student of Pre-medicine at intermediate, Psychology at the graduate

and postgraduate levels. In line with OECD in 2017, 70% of the workforce in health sector is entailed by women. A gender lens is undeniably operative in career prospects.

This reinforces stereotypical gender identities, which are interwoven in an individual’s mind since the very childhood. Gender disparity exists in even the toys and books selection. Boys are encouraged to go for science kits and building blocks while girls are for dolls and kitchen sets. Fairytale stories are considered best for girls, while for boys it’s the factual books. This scenario in turn leaves sturdy impressions on their career choices.

Concerning the course of the global pandemic, feminized sectors have been the highest hit by poverty since females were consumed primarily with caring for the younger ones. However, there were times when girls, particularly university students tried to overcome this adverse situation. Working in the home-based service industry such as running online bakeries and selling floral ornaments.

A student who aspires to opt for subjects that run parallel to the norm faces peer verbal abuse. For instance; a boy who wants to serve as a nurse may perhaps be labelled as “sissy-like” and a girl who wishes to be an astronaut is mockingly called “un-ladylike”.

Career counselors can encourage students and reinforce this idea in parents that opting for one’s study major and the job has to be rooted in aptitude and interest. Media to normalize showing characters that progress in various spheres, not solely superheroes that fly wearing capes. Collaborative efforts can aid in bridging this gap by steering away from careers that do not fit in a particular gender domain.

Food for thought;

‘’Doesn’t this scenario of boys, being away from health-sector makes them less nurturing?’’

‘’Reading fairytales, are girls not made to believe that it is always the prince who saves the princess?’’