A token is an individual who belongs to a social category that occupies less than 15% of an entire group. For example, the twelve percent of Canadian female engineers are all token women. Women in engineering, the trades and some of the hard sciences would be considered token women.
The idea of “token women” in sciences can have a lot of negative impacts for young women potentially entering token careers:
- Younger female students feel reluctant to enter a field with few other women because they might fear being a “token” female”
- Female students are scared to become a token female because they may experience, “increased visibility, performance pressures, social isolation, and assimilation into social stereotypes”.
- Token women also tend to feel excluded and experience pressure to perform well. They may feel as though they can no longer study or work in peace, and are constantly under a microscope, which creates a lot of pressure for these female students.