Happy Sunday everyone. With a blink of an eye, it’s time for me to fly back to Chicago tomorrow morning! It is truly a bittersweet departure, as I leave one home for another. Thank you family and friends for making this past month so amazing!
I work at a feminist think tank and thought I’d share with you a research report I’ve recently come across and the psych theory that might help y’all look at careers choices a little differently.
The psych theory I’ll be talking about in this post is expectation bias, or the idea that we interpret the world in a way that is consistent with how we’ve experienced it so far.
For example, my landlord’s dog usually tries to rush out the door when I get back home from work, so I’ve learned to open the door slowly and maneuver myself through the doorway without creating an opening for her to dash out. Expecting that a high-energy pit bull will be sprinting at me when I get home is useful. Though on days when she’s not at home, I nevertheless do the same set of actions and probably look pretty ridiculous cautiously inching into an empty house.
Expectation bias probably would’ve saved Charlie Brown from face planting in all those episodes.
Expectation bias can also affect our career choices. In a recent report published in Science magazine, researchers found that there are much fewer women P.h.D.’s in fields that tend to value innate intellectual talent over hard work. The authors of the report suggest that this is because instructors tend to perpetuate the stereotype that boys have more innate intellectual talent than girls do. In other words, because students tend to see and hear about boys excelling in certain careers, they internalize and come to expect the trend.
More generally, the expectation for girls to go into more care-oriented career fields like nursing and guys to pursue more “ballsy” fields like finance really do influence our career choices. All of my girlfriends who work in finance-related careers report that the gender ratio at their workplace is heavily skewed male (they also tell me it’s a good thing for their relationship prospects, so I guess there’s always a silver lining :p). I’m sure that many of you see gender-based trends in career choices within your circle of friends.
Expectation bias can make life easier, though it’s not a bad thing to ask yourself whether it’s keeping you from doing what you genuinely want to do. In this vast world, there’s a lot of problems that need solving and wonderful adventures to be had. So don’t let for expectation bias keep you from doing what you want to do 🙂