The Politics of Arrogance: A psychological take on STEM majors

As a politics and psychology double major, I at times receive scrutiny from STEM majors about how I’m “wasting my money” and how I’m unemployable because, apparently, the only thing people in the arts and humanities do is “sit around a classroom and theorize about books.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth, but trying to explain the importance of the arts and humanities to a STEM major is often fruitless. Unless your degree qualifies you to work as an engineer or accountant, or allows you to work in a hospital, your degree is virtually useless in their eyes. But why? Why do STEM majors believe that they are superior based solely off of what they are studying in college?

Before we can answer that question, we have to conceptualize what it means to be conceited in the first place. We need to shed light on why people, in general, get fixated on this idea that they must constantly prove that they are better than others.

Well, it should be no surprise that our capitalistic society- a society that prides itself on the “only the strongest shall survive” mentality- values arrogance. To most people, this attribute is equated with dominance, power, affluence, and prestige. People want complete dominion so they can do whatever they please. People also want money so they won’t be constricted by finances, therefore granting them the opportunity to explore the world and all it has to offer- not even mention how people want to have influence over others so that their legacy can be remembered and make their lives purposeful. So, let’s face it: anyone would act in a pretentious manner if they knew that in the end, they would amass fame and fortune.

STEM majors constantly challenge themselves and brag to liberal arts majors about how hard they’re pushing themselves. STEM majors are going to school to be doctors, engineers, and physicists- people who are making a lasting impact on society. So, isn’t it a good thing to be arrogant? Or is that what society wants us to believe? Is there a way to be successful without belittling others for the field of study they chose? Of course there is! Arts and humanities do more than just theorize about life. They have to go into every discussion and provide representation for those who are disfranchised.

This is not to say that STEM doesn’t consider marginalized individuals, but it is undeniable that people of color and women don’t have the same representation as cis-gendered heterosexual white men in STEM fields. Arts and humanities give a platform to people to express their individuality and allow people to think outside of the box, unlike STEM majors who use formulas to get a solution. Both types of students, those in liberal arts and those in STEM, have difficulties within their respective fields.

Furthermore, saying one is better than the other would simply be illogical. Everyone can shine and be successful in their own areas of study because everyone is doing something different than the next person.

We, as a society, need to dismantle this idea of tearing down others in order to get success. Instead, we need to teach people to help each other and recognize the potential in every field of study, because every field is very much needed. No matter what field of study you go into, you can make a lasting impact on society.