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STEM: “Not for Women”

By Christina at

Last updated on November 22, 2023

The United Nations states, “Today, women remain a minority in STEM education and careers, representing only 28 percent of engineering graduates, 22 percent of artificial intelligence workers, and less than one-third of tech sector employees globally.” This poses the question: why are women not very active in STEM?

There has been a significant gap between women’s and males’ access to educational opportunities through the centuries. Schools were established in many parts of the world to train boys to be military. Consequently, the education of women was not prioritized. Females were obliged to prepare for a future in the household, as there were no opportunities for education. But even when the first coeducational schools began to appear, it was not equal enough. There still was segregation: girls entered from one side of the building, boys entered from another. They had separate classes, and the “co-ed” system only existed in name. 

As society develops, the gap has still been an existent problem. As females started to gain access to educational facilities, they began investigating research much later than males did. One of the most widespread biases started from this point. That is, the belief that “Women just cannot do STEM.” Gender stereotypes prevent girls from education even in schools — it is not rare to hear females say that they would be better off writing essays in English Class or studying historical narratives rather than exploring biology evolution or discovering Newton’s laws of motion. 

Even though the legacies of Maria Curie, Katherine Johnson, Joan Clarke, and many others are significant, the world is still far from accepting women’s importance in STEM. Stereotypes about who is suited to STEM play a noteworthy role in discouraging girls from entering these fields. Without encouragement in tech fields, girls end up lacking the necessary knowledge.

Right now, our societal biases are a massive obstacle for girls who want to study STEM. The United Nations states, “Those who do make it into tech often face an actively hostile environment, with a significant pay gap (21 percent) and considerably lower rates of promotion (52 women for every 100 men). Nearly half (48 percent) report experiencing workplace harassment. A whopping 22 percent say they are considering leaving the workforce altogether due to the treatment they’ve received in the sector.” Women must overcome society’s preconceptions to work in their desired fields.

While striving for a higher level of development in the next generation, we must address that problem. Including both sexes would be influential to spark the interest in STEM and the ability to thrive both for women and men. As the right to equity is a worldwide right for everyone, we must satisfy it. The first step to overcoming biases is supporting narratives of gender equity and working to implement them in classrooms and workplaces. Secondly, we should support female scientists by sharing their success stories and praising them as we do with men’s achievements. To help women succeed in a changing labor market, specific programs, more job positions, and social awareness campaigns should be created.

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