This post is part of Blog Action Day 2014 – the discussion this year is about inequality.
One of the things I like about freelance writing is there is no real discrimination – if I produce writing that people are willing to pay for the fact that I’m a white woman of a ‘certain age’ doesn’t even come up.
Or maybe there is discrimination…
…it happens long before most of us actually start our freelance writing career.
Gender discrimination in US education
Somehow, girls fall behind men in math and science – at least in the US – usually during elementary school. It’s totally unclear from the research I’ve read exactly why this is. Theories abound, mostly focused on the idea that teachers and parents unconsciously (for the most part) assume girls can’t handle such weighty topics.
I myself have some serious difficulties with math – yet when ages ago I was tested for math ability I scored considerably above average. So where did I lose out? I don’t know.
More recently there has been an attempt to educate girls in science, technology, engineering and math or STEM. It’s too early to know the results, but girls seem to love the programs which bodes well I think.
What this means in terms of freelance writing
When women don’t get a solid educational grounding in science and technology it means as freelance writers they aren’t as able to write about those subjects as men are. It’s sort of an insidious form of discrimination.
And it may be changing. According to Aimee Picchi, a freelance writer, in her post Do the “Best SFF Books of 2013? lists show gender bias? the split between published men and women was about even.
The Solutions Summit 2014 focused on Women in Science Writing. The recaps are inspiring. I’m not at all clear, however, on why they featured Matthew Francis as the Summit’s podcaster – surely there are many women capable of providing that view. Perhaps that’s a bit of evidence of how unconscious discrimination happens. I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed.
A Freelance Writer Bill of Rights
The website also has a Freelance Writer Bill of Rights that begins:
We commit to providing equal opportunities for journalists without regard to age, gender, race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and disability status.
A good start and the rest, if followed, would go a long way toward reducing bias.
We can write about inequality
As freelance writers we have the opportunity, even the obligation, to write about inequality when it happens to us and when we see it happening to others. Blog Action Day is alive in 111 countries… bloggers joining together to discuss inequality.
We have the ability to put powerful words in front of literally millions of people. Just think about that for a moment – take it in, then write.
You can actually join Blog Action Day 2014 for the next several days… if you do, post your link in comments here.
I’ll be launching my new The Freelance Writers Business Solutions Course before long – sign up for early notice here.
Write well and often,