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Why is it that most of the significant milestones or successes are associated with men?

woman working in lab with microscope
History as well as the modern age knows extremely successful women

Try to search online for “the most influential people in history”. Worldly renowned media offer several rankings. Among the most frequently mentioned are Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, William Shakespeare, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Julius Ceasar, Abraham Lincoln or Nikola Tesla. [1] They lived throughout different parts of our history and became famous for various deeds. What unites them? Definitely gender.

Definitely gender. Among the most important personalities in our history are almost exclusively men. Our history lessons were also taught in this spirit, during which we got to know the greats of our political history, science, art, innovation and industrial progress. Does this mean that men have been able to assert themselves more since forever? Have they been more successful, or even more intelligent?

Women that have been included in the lists naming most influential personalities would definitely disagree. Marie Curie, Rosa Parks, Ada Lovelace, Margaret Thatcher, Mary Wollstonecraft, Rosalind Franklin, Mother Teresa, Amelia Earhart, or Princess Diana [2]. Do you know them all? Did you know that Rosa Parks, an African-American, started an African-American civil rights movement by refusing to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, USA, in 1955? We know Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, but did you know that Ada Lovelace, a gifted mathematician, was considered to be the first computer programmer?

Woman engeneer programming on computer
Have you ever wondered why most historic milestones and successes are linked with male figures, despite it being proven that women were also participating?

History as well as the modern age knows extremely successful women. However, their number seems to be significantly lower than men's. We can clearly see it in a comparison looking at the Nobel prize. Since 1901, when the first ceremony took place, until 2020, only 58 women received the award, while up to 876 men. This significant gender gap has been shrinking in recent years. Of the eleven Nobel Prize winners nominated in 2020, four were women, it is a small big step in empowering women in society.

Have you ever wondered, why is it that most of historic milestones and successes are linked with male figures, despite it being proven that women were also participating?

What does history reveal?

Looking back to the past, it is obvious that for decades, women were considered to be the caretakers and child givers. A right to an education, right to own a property or the right to vote was only given to men. We had to fight for our rights in society. Our fight for basic human rights as well as opportunities for self-realization and a career, required time.

However, finding that time while living a simple life and being expected to take care of a household, estate and many children, was rare. In addition, women did not gain the opportunity to learn on an equal footing with men until the 20th century. Until then, they also had very limited ownership, inheritance and parental rights.

Since the 18th century, it was mainly the industrial revolution, technological progress and subsequent social changes that have opened up opportunities for women to participate in the work environment and to pursue education, their interests and their talents. Thus, it was not because of the different abilities or intelligence between women and men, but it stemmed from the historically conditioned social division of male and female roles.

women protesting for equality
Women had to fight for their rights in society
“You don't have the brain cells for mathematics. Girls don't understand technology.”

Have you ever stumbled upon such claims? When comparing male and female brains, scientists have found no proof of better predispositions for math or technical sciences in men. …Our brains are slightly different to men's. If we consider body size, men's brains are 9% bigger. However, in the female brain, four out of seven most significant centers are bigger. Performance does not equal size. The important thing is that we all have the same amount of brain cells, the only difference is that we have them stored in a smaller space. Therefore, our brain is definitely not stopping us from calculating an algorithm or writing a HTML code.

How are we influenced by society?

We have been part of society since we were born. First, it is family, later on, kids on the playground, school, work, broader society that perceives us on a global scale through social media. From an early age, on a bigger or a smaller scale, we have been subjected to social stereotypes. Girls wear girls 'clothes, receive girls' gifts, we are required to have excellent school results, to be obedient, to decently behave.

These expectations are the result of long-term societal developments, which until recently relied heavily on clearly defined male and female roles. The consequences of this social development include, for example, the unequal position of the LGBTI community, inequality in the remuneration of men and women, women being hesitant to take risks, their mistrust in their abilities, or perfectionism, which often prevents women from advancing in their career or personal growth. We may not be able to influence the speed of social progress, but we can develop our knowledge of the consequences of social pressure on our self-esteem, actions or decisions.

woman looking to distance behind the chessmen
There are three women in the world's top 100 chess players.

There are three women in the world's top 100 chess players. According to estimates, there have been a constant 16% of women in the IT industry over the last ten years. [4] In the world of aviation, only 7% of women are pilots or aeronautical engineers. [5] The word engineer is so little used that Google wants to adapt it to the masculine gender. Despite these unfavorable statistics, we are seeing progress in many areas, with women coming to the fore and gender gaps narrowing. Apparent progress can be seen in the current governments of more economically developed countries.

Our history textbooks stay mostly silent about strong female leaders. All the more we need to actively seek them out and learn from those women who have excelled and excel in their intellect, abilities, determination and perseverance. Because these are the skills needed for the 21st century. The soft skills we can acquire through proactivity, experience and the fearlessness of taking on new challenges.

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