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STEM: Where Are The Women?

Shreya Rupesh

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When it comes to education, many individuals like to discuss STEM, an umbrella term that is used to describe the general areas of studies of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. One aspect of STEM education that many fail to mention is the women; the gender gap in STEM professions is very prevalent today, and, females are underrepresented in these STEM careers. Many factors play into this gender disparity, and it all starts with the subconscious gender bias that fills each young woman's head at a very young age.

Children are always told that they can be anything; however, girls are constantly exposed to more “feminine” jobs, which contradicts this belief. While many women do seem to have interest in a certain STEM field, they ultimately end up losing this interest, which should not be the case. While we are young, we have this idea that we can do or be anything- astronauts, scientists, doctors- but as the years go by, this idea slowly vanishes. Throughout their school careers, women have fewer opportunities to get introduced to STEM careers than men. The idea that STEM careers are “masculine” derails many girls from pursuing their interests in those fields. Girls start to believe they cannot achieve as much as men can, and that mathematics or computer science is too difficult a subject for them. Many girls who are very interested in these careers start losing confidence in their abilities at a very young age.

By the time students enter college, the number of women in these STEM fields gets significantly smaller. To remedy this gender gap, we have to be proactive and start implementing new strategies to provide girls at a young age enough confidence to succeed in STEM fields that they like. By encouraging young women, and giving them opportunities for success, we can instill confidence and determination among them. With the simple but beneficial idea of a mentorship program, girls can look up to a strong, empowered role model, and start to feel empowered themself. By allowing some of these educational opportunities, girls can develop the confidence and skills to succeed in the many STEM fields.

As there are only a few women in STEM, many individuals claim to feel invisible in their workplace. Consequently, many female scientists and engineers go unnoticed for their contributions. Ada Lovelace was a woman who was very interested in mathematics and science. Being a girl, she could not find great education; it was difficult for her to explore her passions with no educational help. Despite her hardships, she became the first computer programmer. Many people do not know about her contributions, but many have heard of male mathematicians and computer scientists Alan Turing and John von Newmann.

Shreya Rupesh
At a young age, women should be exposed to and encouraged to pursue more STEM fields, and their contributions should be praised. Women should be provided the same opportunities as men in STEM. The stereotype around men and women's societal roles in the past have led to this gender disparity of women in the workforce today. Women should be exposed to STEM careers earlier, and the stigma around women in STEM should ultimately be banished. Adding mentorship programs and educational access and help to schools will benefit not only the young girls wanting to go into a STEM field, but our society as a whole.

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