At Big Think, ten women talk about breaking into male-dominated areas of endeavor.
10 Top Women in Male-Dominated Fields
Max Miller on November 3, 2010, 12:00 AM
Despite the strides women have made toward equality in the past 50 years, they remain underrepresented in a variety of professions. Today we salute ten female pioneers in traditionally male-dominated fields:
1. Irina Krush (Chess Master): Unlike most competitive pursuits, chess allows women to compete alongside men, yet a woman has never won a world chess championship. In fact, only one woman, Judit Polgar, has ever cracked the Top 10 in chess's world rankings. Big Think spoke recently with Irina Krush, who at age 14 became the youngest U.S. Women's Champion, and she told us that chess requires masculine characteristics that most women don't naturally have.
"Chess is a very solitary game," she says. "I think women or girls when they were growing up were more social animals; [they] prefer to do things in groups." She also points to traits like competitiveness and analytic thinking, which are crucial for success in chess but are more commonly associated with men. "For a woman to be successful in chess, she basically has to develop in herself more masculine qualities than she would if she was involved in another profession," says Krush.
The short list of qualities that Irina started rattling off as indicative of male chess players dribbled to a stop when she realized that all of those qualities are also embodied in the female of the species, as she then graciously acknowledged. I believe it's just a matter of time and further breaking down the socialization that says females "should not" or "cannot" perform in certain areas of endeavor and we'll have hundreds of Judit Polgars. And dads will have to start taking care of the kids while mom is travelling the tournament circuit.