This article doesn’t aim to argue that those who study Art-based subjects are somehow more unique than who study Science-based subjects.
Rather, it aims at highlighting something which is often ignored by most articles. Namely, the fact that there is a masculinization of the sciences, and a feminization of the arts that seems to inform this hierarchy.
The sciences, specifically the disciplines of studies associated with Medicine and Engineering, are associated with mathematical reasoning and scientific logic is masculinized.
Thus, it is not a coincidence that these are the areas of studies that are held in high regards within Middle Eastern and Arab society. All you need to do is join a discussion on the prospect of someone traveling abroad to pursue these fields of study.
If it is a male student, then the words of encouragement will not end. If it is a female student, however, the words of discouragement will not end; she will be called a nerd, she will be put down on the premise that these fields of study are not unfeminine.
My own cousin, for example, wishes to pursue her university studies in the field of pharmaceutical. Her mother –my aunt- however keeps on saying that she wants her to pursue a more feminine field of study, i.e. a language major or a social science.
Not to mention, of course, the notion that females who pursue sciences are “too serious”. I have come to learn that this essentially means that these females are perceived as exceptionally smart and goal-oriented, making them a genuine threat to the mainstream sexist society.
On the other hand, if a male student wishes to study visual arts or a social science, for example, he will face a similar stigma to the one faced by the aforementioned female. I personally know several guys who were forbidden from pursuing such fields, under the guise that these were not masculine pursuits.
One of my family friends, for example, told her son that he should not pursue Political Science due to the fact that Engineers make more money, and that eventually he had to think of himself as a breadwinner.
What these examples reveal is that the relational hierarchy that exists between the Science and the Arts does not function outside a paradigm of sexism.
Indeed, this paradigm will inevitably ask of men to be concentrated in the higher-paying professions, and women in the less-paying professions, in order to maintain ideals of gender hierarchy.
It is all quite tautological; professions that are masculinized are higher-paying to maintain the status of the masculine, and professions that are femininized and lower-paying are often looked down upon by mainstream society.