By: Rachel Auslander
When I first saw the Forbes 30 under 30 list for 2015, I was really excited, because young people are accomplishing so many great things. But after looking through a couple of pages, I noticed the unequal distribution and shortage of girls in the mix of accomplished people. Art and style, Hollywood entertainment, media, and social entrepreneurs are the only fields where the girls outnumber the boys. That’s four out of twenty fields total. In consumer technology, only two girls were recognized, but 35 boys were. That doesn’t make sense to me. I know each category is only a small sampling of one field, but I really don’t believe that there is enough of a shortage of girls in that particular field for only 2 to be recognized out of 37 total people. Maybe women aren’t doing any great things, but I disagree with that. Maybe they’re just not being included. In science, technology, engineering, and math fields, men are generally viewed better than women with the same qualifications, and are paid more. Women make up half the work force but represent only 25% of STEM jobs. Only 1 in 7 engineers is female. There is constant bias against women in all male dominated fields, STEM or not. Males are more likely to get support and funding for their ideas than women, just due to the lack of past representation of strong women. It’s a vicious cycle. If women are never given a chance to succeed, how will they ever be able to?
Women are obviously being recognized for their work in many non STEM related fields. Women have been standouts in these fields in the past, and there is a strong pull of commonly known role models. I’m pretty sure that most 15-year-old girls know who Blake Lively (actress) is, or maybe even Michelle Phan (YouTube beauty guru) or Veronica Roth (author of Divergent). I had never heard of any of the girls in the Forbes science category before, and they are all doing really cool things, like developing nanoparticles that can penetrate deep within the brain. I didn’t even know who Ada Lovelace was until last year, and she was the world’s first computer programmer. That’s a problem. In school, most kids learn about the inventors of the light bulb, electricity, and more, and most of the inventors are male. Wouldn’t it be nice if a few more women were thrown into the mix? Girls are constantly exposed to media and pop culture references, so we’re much more likely to hear of and have people to look up to in those areas. So many girls in the different categories on the Forbes list would be great role models for girls if they had the chance to be. If more girls knew about strong, powerful, important women working in male dominated fields, such as STEM, they would be able to feel confident with that as their profession and be more likely to succeed. If there are enough successful women in an industry, maybe the wage gap will even disappear, as well as the image of a typical worker for a company. If there is an equal amount of successful professionals in any given field, there should not be any bias or stereotype of who should be hired for a job or have a project funded, no matter their gender. Representation is key to changing the face of all jobs and the portrayal of women in the work force.