You know there’s no real reason to limit the skeptical movement to scientific skepticism, right? That the critical thinking process and the looking for evidence to support conclusions applies to a wide variety of fields outside the realm of science, medicine, and technology? Right now much of the skeptical movement seems to be pulling from the science and technical fields, which are industries and courses of studies in which women are underrepresented. If you are reaching out mostly to the science and technology fields for new members (because that’s where they’ve always come from), then you are always going to come up short if recruiting more women is your aim.
OK, maybe not always. We could pretend that tomorrow sexism ends and all girl babies and boy babies grow up with the exact same confidence in and encouragement to purse their abilities, and twenty-five years from now, when all those men and women have their degrees and women are fully represented in the science and technology fields, when you reach out to those communities as many women will become active skeptical movement participants as men will be, and the gender imbalance will be resolved with no effort at all. But do you really want to wait twenty-five years? The skeptical movement needs new members now, and can’t afford to twiddle its proverbial thumbs for a quarter of a century until the demographics catch up to it. To get those women members, it’s going to have to look beyond science and technology for the fields women are concentrated in right now.
I know why much of skepticism pulls from the science and technology fields–because they lend themselves to data collection and research. But there is lots and lots of research happening outside of those fields that would make logical extensions of the skeptical umbrella. Extending the skeptical umbrella beyond the science and technology fields will likely draw attention to a lot more issues that face the average person every day. Life is full of choices to make with very little information, and many, many public programs and strategies would benefit from the skeptical lens. There are women already studying phenomena and making recommendations in their non-scientific fields of expertise, and it would not be a very big leap to approach them once you make an effort to figure out where they are.
I’ll even give you a place to start. Here’s an off-the-top-of-my-head list of topics that would naturally lend themselves to skepticism, some of which are even frequently associated with women:
- social work
- effects of legalizing drugs/immigration/sex work
- consumer research
- real estate
- human resources
It might be interesting for everyone, after all, to branch out and learn something new.