Closing The Gap Between Men and Women in STEM | Guest Bloggers

  • admin
  • 2023-10-10
  • 3 min read

Over the last few decades, we have seen a decrease in gender inequality. Women have now started to leave the traditional roles served to them by society. They have entered the workforce by choice, working in all the different fields. However, it is not hidden from the world that men still dominate the fields of hardcore science, technology, engineering, and maths.

So, why does this gap exist? And is there something we can do to bring about a much-needed change?

What is STEM?

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. From the perspective of studies and careers, STEM is considered one of the most reputed fields. It is an expanding stream with tremendous potential and opportunity. High school students and graduates pursuing STEM typically see a boost in their applications in further studies.

Women In STEM

  • As per recent research in the USA, only 27% of the students taking an Advanced Placement Computer Science exam were female. 
  • Furthermore, only 18% of females graduate with a college degree in the field.
  • Across many other countries, women are not allowed to take up fields such as STEM.

In a recent study, students from a reputed engineering university were asked to develop solutions to the growing problem of fewer women seeking STEM degrees. The solutions they suggested were insightful:

  • There is a myth that students pursuing STEM must be exceptional at mathematics. While being good at math can be helpful, the skill can be grown with practice and effort. Involving themselves in projects is where a student can start.
  • While entering a male-dominated field, women need to have a fearless and confident approach. High hopes of making their own mark should drive students more than anything else.
  • More female role models should be visible to young girls and women still exploring their careers. Spotlighting examples of women who are successful in STEM fields can empower many aspiring women around the world.

What Is Keeping Women Out Of Stem?

We already live in a biased world where society is still male-dominated in most countries. At the same time, there are some internal biases in the field of STEM that limit women from pursuing careers.

  • Women’s success and expertise are questioned frequently.

Nearly 65% of women who are interviewed in STEM fields report that they had to prove themselves over and over again. The decision-makers often question their expertise. 

  • Playing the gender card.

Women are expected to approach the STEM field in a masculine way. The irony is that they are still expected to be feminine. Constant pressure on their approaches and behavior proves taxing.

  • Women are asked to take a step back with maternity.

Professional women face major career setbacks with pregnancy. Their commitment to time, energy, and skill is questioned. Fewer opportunities are extended to them.

  • Women are not given the platform.

Many women who have performed excellently in their careers are not invited to share their ideas. Often, their male counterparts get both the stage and the limelight.

How Can We Close The Gap Between Men & Women In STEM?

We can make STEM a more welcoming field for women through constant efforts and activities. It is the need of the hour because gender equality needs to be achieved, and STEM could use more enlightened and skilled brains.

Steps students can take to decrease the male-female ratio in STEM:

  • Send inclusive messages about who makes a good science and engineering student. Try not to communicate to just the males out there.
  • Actively recruit women into STEM majors.
  • Take proactive steps to support women STEM majors during their semesters.
  • Make the institute a friendly and safe space for women.
  • Make performance standards and the institute’s expectations clear in STEM courses.

Steps faculties can take:

  • Train all staff and faculty to remove gender-based biases and evaluate every student based on their work.
  • Conduct departmental reviews to assess the environment hosted for female staff members.
  • Support work-life balance among the faculty. 
  • Provide on-site child care.
  • Raise awareness about the bias against women in STEM fields.
  • Create strict and precise criteria for success so there is no room for judgments and grades based on biases.
  • Encourage transparency in the classroom and the workplace.

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