By Roberta Attanasio, Forever Leaders Editor
It’s common knowledge that women are underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) occupations. According to a recent report (Women in STEM: 2017 update) by the Office of the Chief Economist, US Department of Commerce, during the past ten years or so there has been little overall change in this underrepresentation. The report points out that women filled 47 percent of all U.S. jobs in 2015, but held only 24 percent of STEM jobs. Likewise, women constitute slightly more than half of college educated workers but make up only 25 percent of college educated STEM workers. In addition, the report shows that while nearly as many women hold undergraduate degrees as men overall, they make up only about 30 percent of all STEM degree holders. Furthermore, women make up a disproportionately low share of degree holders in all STEM fields, particularly engineering.
The report aimed to provide data and insight to help guide more informed policymaking—it did not aim to explain why gender differences in STEM exist. So, to understand why women make up a disproportionately low share of degree holders in all STEM fields, let’s look at a study carried out by Microsoft, and released a few days ago (March 13, 2018).
The study (Closing the STEM Gap: Why STEM classes and careers still lack girls and what we can do about it) found that girls and young women have a hard time picturing themselves in STEM roles, and that girls don’t initially see the potential to be creative in STEM careers, or have a positive impact on the world. It seems that these beliefs lead girls to lose interest in STEM and computer science as time goes on. In middle school, for example, 31 percent of girls believe that jobs requiring coding and programming are “not for them.” In high school, that percentage reaches 40. By the time they’re in college, 58 percent of girls count themselves out of these jobs.
However, the study also found that conditions and context can make a significant difference to girls, young women and their interest in STEM, and perceptions of STEM and computer science careers can change quickly. After being presented with just a brief description of the real-world accomplishments of engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists, girls’ perceptions of those career characteristics changed dramatically. In some cases, the perception of the creativity and positive impact of STEM careers more than doubled.
Thus, girls need more exposure to STEM jobs, female role models, and career awareness and planning. Encouragement from teachers and parents makes a big difference in girls’ interest in STEM—especially when it comes from both teachers and parents. The study also identified hands-on experience as an important factor in motivating girls to pursue STEM careers. Almost a third (31 percent) of girls surveyed participated in extracurricular STEM clubs and activities. Compared to classroom instruction, these activities tend to be more hands-on and practical. That kind of exposure has a profound impact on how girls feel and what they know about STEM subjects and careers. An important additional motivating factor is the availability of positive role models and mentors.
However, the study concludes that the most important way to encourage girls’ interest in STEM is to listen to what they say about their challenges and desires.
As I was reading this post, I felt some sort of connection. Women are INDEED underrepresented in the STEM-field. It’s one thing to hear from others that there is a gender gap versus actually reading real statistics/facts. I definitely agree that we should have more positive role models/mentors in our lives. This will have such a great impact because if women come together, we can achieve anything. I once read a quote that made me smile, “Women can do anything men can do, but in heels.” We should listen to eachother. This includes listening to struggles and successes. If we help eachother through the struggles, we can succeed anything in STEM. There are many women becoming doctors, but there are not many who take on leadership roles because of the amount of commitment. I feel like we should all support eachother and create more women leaderships in this world!
I personally believe that there is a STEM gap between males and females. First and foremost, when one hears about a doctor, the first person that they imagine would be a male figure. I personally believe that young girls are brought up without knowing the impact that they can make in the STEM field. I believe that gender roles still play a major role in the way that our society works. It is still taboo for women to make more money than men. Men have always been seen as the hunters, gatherers, and breadwinners, while the women are always seen as the nurturers. This also goes into TV shows and commercials that young women see on TV. Young girls tend to see more girls their age becoming models, chefs, and teachers. However, if there were more women working in STEM to continue pushing young girls to consider working within STEM, I believe that the percentage of girls who end up losing interest in STEM will decrease drastically. I also believe that many girls do not believe that they are smart enough for STEM. Most of the time when people think of a smart girl, an Asian or Indian girl comes to mind. However, we need to teach every girl that she is capable of excellence in STEM and any other field she has interest in. In all, I do agree with this article. Young girls do need more exposure to STEM. They need more role models and hands-on experience. Yes, it is quite amazing to see men within the STEM field, but there are plenty of qualified females that could make a positive impact within the field. The future of STEM could definitely be more more female-involved if we continue to support girls from an early age until they reach adulthood.
I often see gender disparity in both the technology and engineering field. However, I don’t see much difference between males and females when it comes to the science, especially in the healthcare field. In the past, my friend invited me to sit in her CSC 3210 course with her, and I notice that majority of the class were males. This class was at GSU, and I was surprised because in my biology class there was a fair mixture of male and females. Even in the hospital and research field, I didn’t notice the differences.I wonder why there are so few females going in the technology field?I think the reason was lack of knowledge and perception. If high school had told I could in the future make a living out of building apps, building games, and still being able to stay in the comfort of my home; I would have chosen a different path.
Women in STEM fields are being underrepresented due to various factors. One is that being in the STEM field requires a lot of commitment and time. Many people choose to avoid that route due to the concern that it might affect their future with starting a family. Or maybe they’re simply just not exposed to how a STEM major can benefit them. Women tend to avoid STEM majors because they just don’t picture themselves doing it without even trying to get a feel for it. Young girls should be exposed to more STEM-related subjects starting from elementary school, so they can discover their passion early. Kids learn a lot quicker than adults do, so if they’re exposed to the subject early, they can have a chance of liking it and will give them an interest in pursuing more of it. Schools make a big mistake because they start offering STEM classes in high school when they should be exposing the subject to kids early. Because by the time they’re in high school, they might view the subject as boring or even count themselves out of their possible career choices. Schools should educate kids on the benefits of being in the STEM field, not just how much money it’ll make them. In kids shows that represent STEM, for example, the famous Bill Nye the Science Guy, most of the main characters that represent shows like that are males, so there’s already a preconceived notion that STEM jobs are meant for men. There are a lot of men in STEM because of the status that they like to achieve, men are usually perceived as the bread-winner so that they like to have a job where it can make them a lot of money. Most STEM role models are usually men, to change that, we need more women to represent STEM, so that other women can have someone to look up to and be inspired by their success. The gap will start to close in once more women take up the challenge to pursue a STEM career, and be successful on it, and more women will start to be inspired starting at a young age.
I agree that the exposure to many of the STEM subjects in grades below the highschool level can benefit many children to find their passion for science. I say this because I am one who wished I had known more about the endless possibilities in careers in the science field. Of course a career as a doctor is very competitive and I personally think it intimidates lots of women; however, women should not refrain form pursue a medical degree. Also, I did not discover the many different fields in STEM until I started college. It would have been very beneficial if I had been introduced to the subject earlier in life.
I do agree with the points made in this article. I’m not surprised that there are less women in the STEM field. We live in a world where male dominates almost every job and the fact that stereotypes of how women needs to stay home and take care of house work still exist today could also be a factor to why there isn’t much female in the STEM industry. Growing up, I didn’t have much guidance on what to do in the future, I never really had a mentor either and never even visited a guidance counselor up until I was in college and even that was to just figure out what classes I needed to take. I was expose to dentistry only because of personal experience with my teeth which is why I want to pursuit this career. There are so much to offer in the STEM field that I never knew about such as health informatics. Yet, there are not being introduced to students. Perhaps that is the actual problem. Students are not getting enough exposure to all these amazing field. I know that there are many school that has career events for students and teachers and counselors do try their best to help students with their future career. However, I strongly believe that if these role models have a one on one session with each student especially these younger females and inspire them the many option they can branch out to in the STEM field and explain the occupations, perhaps in the nearby future, there would be more females in this field.
It’s unfortunate that women in not only our generation but in general, belittle themselves and don’t think we are capable of succeeding in STEM fields. The article mentioned that “the study also found that conditions and context can make a significant difference to girls, young women and their interest in STEM, and perceptions of STEM and computer science careers can change quickly.” The conditions that women are placed in regarding STEM fields is conditioned towards men, and not women. So what can we do to change this mentality? What can we, as women do, change the conditions that are standard for society? IF we change the conditions and context by influencing and motivating girls at their prime, then we are capable of changing the outcome of STEM and other fields.
Bianca, I also agree that it is quite sad that women think so less of themselves and do not believe in their abilities to be successful in STEM fields. When the article mentions that “context” can shift the way girls perceive STEM careers and increase their interests in these careers, I believe it refers to examples of successful individuals in STEM positions. Girls exposed to real-world role models such as accomplished people in challenging fields can visualize themselves in these rewarding positions and use the possibility of great success as an incentive to pursue these careers. Additionally, I believe the mention of “condition” and its influence on girls refers to exposure and experience in some of these fields. For instance, hands-on experience such as creating the prototype of an app or being able to shadow a physician, rather than a class lecture will allow girls to encounter some of the daily roles in particular careers. For example, I’m a hands-on learner, and I’m more interested in things when I’m involved in the creative process and when I get to see their application in real life. Like the article mentioned, we can promote condition and context by organizing networking events, encouraging participation in STEM clubs, touring STEM facilities, and seeking out positive role models and mentors.
Reading that women are underrepresented in STEM fields was not new to me, but I was surprised to read that they only held 24% of the jobs. That is a lot lower than I was expecting. I think that women tend to follow more administration and business paths, care-giving careers or creative jobs. As the article mentioned, girls interests in STEM decreases as they grow older. I, for a moment, fell into this category, and if it wasn’t for the positive female role model who inspired me to maintain my interest, who knows what path I may have taken. The decrease in interest could be from a lack of positive exposure to the field or perhaps they are underestimating their potential by thinking that science and technology is only dominated by males. Whatever the case may be, we need to start exposing our younger female generations to the STEM field, but in a fun and exciting way. Creating more science programs in schools where they educate our children in the marvels of STEM, and give them real hands-on experience would be a great start to hopefully bridging the gender gap. We need to show them how fascinating this field can be and encourage them to use their creativity to help develop solutions to any problems we are trying to solve. They should be empowered to feel every bit as capable as their male counterparts to excel in the field.
Given the fact that women constitute more than half of college educated workers, this leads me to believe that the issue of underrepresentation of women in STEM careers is a result of factors from the field itself rather than discouragement at the university level. As a biology major, I have seen a good ratio of women throughout my upper level courses. Perhaps the issue arises form the stereotype that STEM careers are typically portrayed as masculine by society. In my personal experience with the media, I cannot recall many television programs portraying any female engineers or physicists. Even scientists are usually portrayed as males working within a lab. I believe it is important for the media to portray more women in typically male associated STEM roles so that it can help alleviate the idea that these kinds of careers aren’t appropriate for women. Many times, people develop certain interests and are inspired to pursue career paths at a young age, so through appropriate representation in media, more and more women would be inspired to pursue STEM careers.
I agree with your comment. A plethora of people begin to find interest in their future career at a young age. There needs to be more representation of female scientists on the big screen. When I was younger, I do not remember seeing female scientists in the lab. If there was a female, she was always the assistant. The men were always the one in charge. Growing up I had this idea that only men pursued careers in science. I attended a STEM high school, and every year I took an honors or AP science course. I hated every class I took. In high school all of my science teachers were men, thus I did not have a woman who could change my mind and lift that stereotype. Two years later and I have realized that women are represented in STEM careers. However, the new problem is that they are scattered. Women are highly represented in Biology, but not so much in engineering. There needs to be more programs dedicated to showing women that they can achieve a career in the STEM field.
This article addresses the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields, a gender a gap that I was oblivious to until recently. My ignorance to this disproportion in female representation in STEM careers is caused by two main reasons. First, I’ve never once taken the time to research the statistics of career distribution between men and women occupying STEP positions and second, from my recollection, it “seems” as though all of my STEM courses throughout my collegiate career have had a fairly even distribution of both sexes interested in STEM-related careers. Of course, those reasons do not take into account the leaky pipeline effect of women vacating STEM positions. Hence, my view of this issue has been biased due to my own experiences. However, the statistics tell what is true. I believe that a compelling reason for this gender gap in STEM careers is also due to the way young girls are perceived when interested in careers that are challenging, for example, the sciences, which transfers to their teenage years, and then adulthood. They are often referred to as nerds or bookworms, and to many, that translates to boring. Often, we feel pressured to belong to the cool crowd, i.e., hang out with the cool/cute guy, the socialites, and partygoers, and the fashionistas. We are willing to do whatever it takes to fit into these social groups, even if it means ignoring our interests. In my opinion, this is premature leaking of the pipeline. Our young girls are leaving before they even begin. To prevent instances like these, it is crucial for us to remind our young girls that they can be both cool and smart which is even better than being just one or the other. We need to encourage them to pursue those challenging careers regardless of what others may think of them and act as role models to demonstrate how they can have a STEM degree and still enjoy life. I was once that student that longed to fit in with the cool crowd, but I was never willing to make the sacrifice it took to belong to that social group. Soon, I’ll be graduating with a degree in the STEM field, I’m fabulous and educated, and there is no better feeling.
For most people, the unknown is scary. We don’t want to venture out into something we aren’t sure we will succeed in. When it comes to a person’s future, risks can be difficult to make. As a woman, going into the STEM field can be a huge risk. Unfortunately, most STEM jobs are seen as male dominated, so to women, we believe our chances of success have already been cut before we’ve even gotten started.
Women are powerful, intelligent beings and we have much to contribute to science. So, we need to start changing the way society views the STEM field. Just as the article states, girls need to be exposed more to the sciences so that they feel comfortable enough to see that they are just as capable as any man.
We also must highlight the women who are succeeding in this field. It is important to have someone to look up to and aspire to be like, so that one’s dreams feel more attainable. From my time here in this WomenLead class thus far, I have met and heard from a few women contributing to the STEM field, and it has truly inspired me and boosted my confidence. I feel as though, because I can see and hear their successes, I will one day be speaking of my own successes. We absolutely need more of this in society.
Great points Camille. I like that you brought up the idea of the unknown. Especially as someone who deals with constant anxiety, the fear of the unknown can be quite crippling. In addition to negative societal pressures, this can make the idea of being a woman going into STEM quite scary. Men are typically the ones expected to pursue a career in STEM and although this idea has been shifting, it is still extremely prevalent. As mentioned in Lean-In, women tend focus on the future and care-giving, often times basing career choices off of future family plans. I truly do appreciate programs such as WomenLead for showing us that we are not alone. Seeing other women who have pursued careers in science and are successful, gives me a sense of hope and confidence. I think its incredibly important for young women to have more exposure to STEM, particularly from women. In movies and television shows, men typically play the role of the doctor. This goes for most fields, not just STEM. As you mentioned Camille, we need more acknowledgement, encouragement, and representation for these incredible women so that young dreamers can feel empowered and encouraged to pursue a career in STEM.
The last sentence of the post states “the most important way to encourage girls’ interest in STEM is to listen to what they say about their challenges and desires”. Well, an Academy in Ohio listened. To encourage more females, especially young girls to obtain careers in STEM, this Bio-Med Science Academy public high school with a STEM+M curriculum (the added M is medicine) was established for students (including male students) in grades 6 through 12. Their mission is “To leverage the region’s extensive scientific, medical, academic and business assets to engage students directly with practicing professionals. The students gain exposure to a range of industries through speakers, internships, field experiences and other opportunities that prepare them for real-world living and working. If more academy’s like this existed, perhaps this could be one of the solutions to help close the STEM Gap.
I agree with what Alondra states about not feeling underrepresented in classes. Most of the classes I take now at the 4000 level, are filled with women and about 6-7 males. Thinking about this makes it hard to believe that the amount of women in the STEM workforce are so little compared to men. Growing up, I have always been interested in science, and have found other women just like me. It may have to do with the university I attend, but with so many intelligent, bright women excelling around me, it baffles me to think most of us will not get where we want to go just because we are women. Being a nurse is what most people think of what femal and medical field are in the same sentence, but I am grateful that my friends and family have never pushed me toward that stereotype. Sheryl Sandberg made a great point about sticking together with one another, and pushing your fellow woman to strive for their goals while supporting them along the way. This can be done by peers, but there also needs to be comradery from those who are higher positions. If everyone works together then I believe our generation could be the ones to solve these problems, but it all starts with the right mindset.
After reading this article I’m not surprised that there is a low percentage of women who are not going into the STEM careers in my opinion, I think the reason is due to society stereotyping these careers as “men jobs”. For example, never in my lifetime have a I saw a young girl get encouraged to work as an engineer usually boys are prompted to go into that type of career. In my opinion, I don’t think that girls lack the interest in working in STEM careers I think that girls don’t have the support from society to pursue their dreams. For example, in high school, I remember my chemistry teacher, encouraging the girls in the class to go into STEM careers. She would tell the class stories about how she was one of the two women working at a company that was dominated by men who were biased to women working beside them. According to my teacher each day she had proven herself. Another reason as to why I don’t think that society shows enough support is based on the pay rate as we know women are paid less than men. But based on STEM careers that are dominantly male their salaries can be six figures.
After reading this post, it was surprising to realize that women are still highly underrepresented in STEM. Of course, I was aware that this has been a trend for a long time. However, I thought there was some progress being made. Based off my experiences, I believed women were becoming more interested in the STEM fields. As a STEM major, classrooms are predominantly women. Even at my high school, there were more females interested in STEM than males. Therefore, I assumed this would translate into an increase in women with STEM related jobs. However, when I think about STEM professions other than the science that I have been exposed to, I start to understand the gender gap. I can understand when the study mentioned that girls had a challenging time picturing themselves in these positions. Unfortunately, there is a stereotype that women in STEM have boring and undesirable jobs. Therefore, to end this misconception, young girls need to see more women in the fields making large impacts. This exposure, as shown in the study, will gain the interest of more girls to be a part of STEM. In this case, representation plays a crucial role. If these young girls do not ever see women in STEM, it will be harder for them to see themselves in the position and never pursue it. Ultimately, this will result in an even larger gender gap.
Personally, I’m not surprised that females are underrepresented in the STEM fields. I can only speak for science and if you look at it from a broad spectrum, it’s not that appealing. To achieve anything in the medical field, you’re in school for 8+ years, you work long hours, and not to mention the MONEY!!! Essentially your life is medicine. I’ve already had to sacrifice a lot of things and temporary joys to spend time studying. But then again, I’m the type of person to think about the long term and my end-goal. Not every female/person is like that. When they look at all that’s required of them , it doesn’t look like daisies and roses, it looks like a battlefield with blood and bullets. When is there time to enjoy life, have kids, or get married? If you know how to time manage and stay focused, those things won’t concern you. But to someone who sees things one dimensionally, it seems impossible. The long term commitment could very well be a deciding factor in not choosing a career in STEM. Also, not choosing a career in STEM probably has nothing to do with feeling inferior or not intelligent. I think a large part might be due to interest. For instance, I wouldn’t want to major in business, math, history or anything except science because it simply doesn’t interest in me. If I have to spend 4 years learning something, I want it to be something I’m interested in. I know that I could pursue any major that I want to, I’m intelligent and capable, I’m not inferior to any man or woman, but I’m not going to pursue something I’m not interested in.
I totally agree with you! Women being underrepresented is not very surprising to me. It is sad, but I also think the media has a huge part in that. When you think historically, women aren’t really represented in movies or in real life to assume these positions. So for a lot of women, it is hard to imagine yourself in those positions. When you don’t see somebody like you somewhere, for most people that is a good reason to drift away from a certain idea. But just like you said, it is important to commit to an idea or interest that can also help you in the long run. It makes total sense to want to be committed to a career since you have to go through so much schooling and make such a big investment to get into. The biggest thing to just to make sure you are not only committed to the career, but you’re committed to your abilities and capabilities.I believe the best way to decrease this gap between men and women in the STEM field to start talking to girls from a young age. Just to reinforce the fact engineering isn’t just for boys, doctors aren’t just for boys, all these other careers that have been thought of to have been reserved for their male counterparts.
I agree with you! Not necessarily everyone is going to enjoy a career in STEM. Everyone has their own hopes and dreams that they want to achieve. So, it just might be that women are not necessarily interested in STEM. Another point is that having a career in STEM, especially med school is a lot of work. Not everyone wants to spend 8+ years in school and be drowned in debt. Also, when are they going to have time for themselves or even have time to have a family? And with all these issues, there is also pay inequality so at the end of the day what are women getting out of it? It’s something women tend to think ahead of time and these certain things discourage them from pursuing a career in STEM. It likes choosing between freedom and happiness. These could be some challenges we as a community can try to work towards. I also agree with the article that if they promote careers in STEM from a young age, more women will lean towards it. Careers like engineering and computer programming etc are some careers that women overlook and think it’s something not for them. But having some kind of encouragement from childhood helps. I see it with me and my friends and the differences in our thoughts and views when it comes to careers in STEM.
I am not surprised that women are underrepresented in the STEM field because STEM jobs are typically seen as jobs that men will excel in specifically in today’s society. I agree with Chayla and Monica when they said that the STEM field is dominated more by men and how it is seen as a masculine career choice. Women are not pushed as much as men are to become part of the STEM field because they see no one in their shoes who have made it to where they want to be. From this, women choose to not pursue that role even though they are a lot more capable excelling in STEM then men are. The more that this gender gap in STEM fields is talked about specifically to women, I believe that the gap will continue to decrease even if it is a slow process. The women that have successfully made it in the STEM fields should continue to share their experience to other women which then will inspire them and give them the confidence that they can also succeed in a field that is dominated by the opposite gender.
I totally agree with Linda (and almost everyone’s comments)! Women in STEM is indeed underrepresented. Awards and grants are given more to males than females. This is sad because as a female, I want to have the same opportunity and outcome as males. Being a woman in the STEM field will have some challenges, especially collaborating with other men. Sometimes you feel like your voice isn’t heard when you give an idea. I also agree with Linda about how the gender gap will soon decrease. Even though it’s a problem now, it definitely made progress since the 90’s. Women are starting to become leaders and voicing their opinions. We’re slowly becoming superiors in companies. Women that are in the STEM field should share their experiences and stories. I recently spoke to my mentor about how it felt being a female scientist and she said the gender gap is not where it used to be in the past; it has improved.
Well said! I agree that STEM is a male-dominated career choice and this knowledge does discourage some young woman from pursuing a career in STEM. The path you have to take to be successful in STEM is very complex and it differs from person to person. I believe that this variety of ways to be successful in STEM has also caused many young women to not take an interest in STEM careers. In order to bridge this gap, there has to be a way for young women to witness that, yes, it does take hard work and dedication, but this does not mean this path is to complicated to be for them. In my experience, like Roseleen, I have noticed that young woman outnumber the young men in my classes ever since AP Biology sophomore year in high school. However, in relation to this article, I believe the decrease in the number of women in the STEM professions is due to women having to sacrifice their careers for family and other personal issues. These issues, such as being pregnant, are not issues that men will have to face and therefore are not reasons why they would sacrifice their entire careers.
When it comes to STEM fields’ women are underrepresented and do not dominant in these fields. Our society perceive men to be more dominant in fields that are consider masculine such as science, math, engineering, and technology. However, over the years more women have become more involved in the STEM culture, and are not recognized as much as men. I agree with Monica , STEM field is male dominate, and therefore people perceive it to be masculine field. I believe not many women that are in the STEM field are being recognized for their achievements. This trickles down to young girls not having role models that show them women are in these predominate male fields and are successful. I believe that’s seeing my women science teachers help sparked my interest in the world of science. However, I do see the gender gap especially in the Technology field. Society think of men as engineers, and working with technology rather than women. In order to change this wide spread perspective, we must attract young girls to be more involved in STEM field. Also, having seminars or conventions of only women STEM leaders for the young girls to network and learn about these women can help decrease this gender gap. Starting at a young age will allow early exposure and longer span of interest throughout high school and college.
The issue claims that more than half of women complete and accomplish college graduates degrees; however, very few numbers of those graduates continue to pursue a career in STEM. The STEM industry is historically male dominate. Many women definitely have the potential to pursue jobs in STEM fields; however, I understand why women think twice about stepping in the field for the rest of their lives. For women, STEM careers are seen as not accommodating to women’s timelines due to lengthy work hours, and potential constant stress. If women were to think about marriage and when to have kids, which most women do tend to think about, the STEM field seems intimidating. I also believe that young girls need to be more exposed to science and know that there are potential doors that can open to STEM occupations in the future. I for one would have appreciated learning about the multiple opportunities science lead to in the future. Being aware and having the resources at a young age with hands on learning experience would have definitely encouraged me to pursue a career in the STEM field. As well as having support from society to strengthen women to challenge themselves and to pursue a career in STEM without fear.
Hey Monica, I think you bring up an excellent point mentioned in the article. Even though the ratio of women to men who graduate with STEM degrees are about equal, there are still fewer women in STEM careers. To add on to this thought, another reason why I feel there may be a disproportionate amount of women, is that STEM careers are often unreceptive of a female scientist. Especially in fields such as engineering, computer science, and physics. These felids are heavily dominated by males and the assumption that women do not have the ability to problem solve persists. To fight such deeply rooted skeptics towards women, we must start from an early age to not just motivate young girls but to give them hands-on experience. As the article states these “kinds of exposure has a profound impact on how girls feel and what they know about STEM subjects and careers.” If schools invested more into mentorship programs and extracurriculars, this could potentially remove the negative stigma about girls in the STEM. I feel young women would be more eager to participate if they knew early on that they can develop the skills necessary to succeed. Stem careers have many attractive features, due to a lack of understanding and the added unwelcomed feeling women will run away.
I have never felt like I was underrepresented in my STEM classes. Maybe its because I have never taken the time to look around me and compare the number of guys versus girls in the class, or maybe its because I have chosen to sit near the women in the room and thus never felt alone. Another factor can be that Georgia state university isn’t primarily a STEM school, so there is equal representation of males and females. At schools like Georgia Tech and other schools whose focus is primarily on STEM, the gap is more prominent. I have had my guy friends that attend Georgia tech complain that they have trouble finding girls to date because there are so few women that attend these schools, and that the ones that do are not attractive. There’s this idea that women in the STEM are not as attractive as women in other fields. When people think of a woman scientist, they don’t generate an image of beautiful women in a lab coat. They think of women with bad skin, glasses, and who is antisocial. Women don’t want to be seen like this mainly by the men who dominate these fields who will be making bank in couple years. We need to erase this bad image of women scientist so to encourage women to pursue careers in these fields.
I also never noticed the gap between males and females in STEM related fields until I took the the Women Lead in Science course. In all honesty most of the people I have known my entire life are in the medical field or have higher positions in engineering or technology. My family also consist of all STEM majors. I am not sure if this due an ethic reason, as a lot of “Asians” or South Asians have predominated these fields. However, I do not agree with the statement that our school does not see a gap between males and females, is because we are not primarily a STEM school. I have worked at the welcome center and as an individual occupied to promote GSU, we were informed that we are focused in STEM and are a primary research institute. The positive to this, as you said, is that we haven’t seen a difference in genders in STEM fields. However, what are some ideas to remove the misconception that women do not belong in STEM fields in other universities? For example, students that work at their universities’ welcome center and do tours, should represent a higher number of women to do the tours in those fields. In the tour, the tour guides can demonstrate their complex knowledge of the programs at the school, while also answering questions about their own journey. As a tour guide, I am aware that most of the groups are more interested in what you are doing. They ask the most detailed questions about what you have achieved so far. This is a eye-opener for parents and students and a way to encourage other women.
The article portrays how women believe STEM topics are challenging for them to pursue. A possible reason for this belief could be the stereotypes that men are more science, math and technology oriented. In society men are usually viewed as being more “educated” hence leading the society to believe that men are more capable of STEM positions rather than women. Women hold very few percentages of jobs in engineering because of these stereotypes. The study observed in this post also explains how women become more interested when the conditions and context of a certain topic changes. Women are more confortable working practically and having hands-on experience to master working skills. Personally, I am also more confortable in a hands-on experimental setting rather than just programming or coding utilizing different software’s. In my opinion, practical experience is more helpful rather than classroom lectures. Also, as the post states, women need more female role models, and insight in STEM careers. I believe it is necessary that women are excessively exposed to various STEM careers to have experience in different career possibilities. In my opinion, some girls are not exposed to the different career possibilities, and the lack of knowledge is detrimental in order or women to seek more careers. Listening to the opinions, and challenges of women is a possible change that can further encourage women to pursue these careers. If women are heard, and change is made, the word will spread and more women will be influenced to reach higher than their comfort zones. As a STEM student myself, I believe there are various careers that can fulfill the interests of women.