Girls in STEM

Background

Women are often discouraged from working in areas involving science, technology, engineering, and math (or STEM). You can find this gender gap almost anywhere, whether it’s a crazy boy to girl ratio in an advanced high school math class, a surprisingly small number of women engineers, or the fact that only 18 out of Cisco’s “100 CEO Leaders in STEM” in 2013 were women.

The idea that women shouldn’t work in STEM fields comes from a long outdated notion that women simply aren’t capable. Now, obviously that isn’t true. Research by Generation STEM tells us that girls are extremely interested in pursuing STEM careers. Additionally, females not only earn more science and math credits than males, but also have higher overall GPA’s in these areas.

So what’s holding women back?

Even though women’s rights in education have been expanded thanks to laws like Title IX, the belief that women aren’t adequate in STEM fields has lingered. Traditional gender roles place a lot of pressure on women, suggesting that they can’t perform as well as men. In addition, there is a vicious circle aspect to this issue. Because few women are choosing to enter STEM fields, girls are growing up in a world that lacks female role models. The resulting statistics are pretty shocking:

  • In 2006, 16.6% of network and computer systems administration jobs belonged to women

  • According to a 2011 study by the United States Commerce Department, only 1 in 7 engineers is a woman

  • Women make up about half of the workforce, however less than 25% of them hold STEM related jobs

  • Federal statistics show that women account for less than 20% of bachelor degrees in computer science, even though women hold about 60% of all bachelor's degrees

  • According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 13% of women have jobs that are concentrated in engineering

  • According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, in 2009, women earned 18% of all computer and information sciences undergraduate degrees

  • More than half of women working in technology companies leave their jobs at the “mid level point”

  • In 2011, only 19% of the students who took the AP Computer Science test were female

Learn more

Check out these cool websites to learn more about women in STEM:

Check out these videos:

Inform Others

  • Not a lot of people are aware of the statistics surrounding women in STEM. Try telling some of your classmates at school about this issue, and collaborate on how you can take action.

  • Let other girls know about any cool STEM events, like the annual she++ Conference for Women in Technology or a local Hack-A-Thon.

  • Spread the word about some WOMEN role models in STEM areas, like Marissa Mayer, president and CEO of Yahoo!

  • Share links to any websites supporting women in STEM on social media.

Create Change

  • The only way to make a change is to BE the change. Don’t be afraid to sign up for classes in STEM areas, even if they are primarily made up of boys!

  • Try joining some clubs at school that involve these STEM areas, such as math team, robotics, science bowl, etc. Find other girls who share your interests, and encourage them to participate with you. If you can’t seem to find a club that’s the right fit, try making your own!

  • Contact the administration at your school and see if they will assist you in encouraging girls to get involved in STEM.

  • Contact any local organizations supporting girls/women in STEM and see how you can work with them to make a change.

By Diana H (16).


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