By: Tiffany Lin
Teacher, Secretary, Attendant, these are the professions filled by the majority of the female workforce. Why not Engineer, Doctor, Technician? What is holding women back from getting involved with STEM – related professions? STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education is provided throughout America, girls have the same opportunities as boys to be exposed to it. So why do fewer women pursue these careers? It’s most definitely not the payroll, considering that women with STEM careers are paid 33% more than women in other fields.
A few days ago, I was at a robotics meeting discussing this subject with my teammates on FIRST Team 1403, and one member brought up the point that girls grow up playing with dolls while boys grow up playing with Legos. So essentially from the day we are born, our general interests and aspirations are determined by society. As girls, we are given Barbie’s, American Girl dolls, etc. in efforts to prepare us for the future that is expected of us. The packaging and advertisement of these products are all filled with happy little girls. Children learn from mimicking what they see, when the TV shows that girls should play with dolls and boys should play with Legos, assumptions are formed. Assumptions that they’re different and they should not play together. Kids grow up, their styles change, their habits change, their friends change, but these ideals still hold true in their minds.
High School. A place filled with people of all sorts. Some have their future completely planned out; others have no clue what they will do. Some are independent and do what they want; others will follow their friends and do what’s popular. I haven’t figured it all out quite yet, but the atmosphere of High School seems to continue to foster the ideas that girls shouldn’t be involved in STEM. Looking at the clubs in my High School, Theater, Student Council, Interact, are all clubs filled with girls. Guys dominate Extracurricular such as Academic League, Science Olympiad, and Robotics. Clearly there is no authoritative figure driving girls away from STEM related activities, but apparently when these activities aren’t necessarily popular amongst their friends, girls are less inclined to join.
The greater issue here isn’t women not choosing to get involved in STEM, it’s stepping out of the comfort zone. Taking the risk of standing up against society’s efforts to feed us our futures. Being confident and independent enough to try something deemed “unpopular”. And maybe, the reward will be more than 33% to your payroll.