Dr. Mae Jemison, the first black woman in outer space, fell in love with science at an early age. Decades later, she's encouraging girls of all ages and backgrounds to engage in STEM education and is sharing insight on how to overcome obstacles.
Although the gender gap in education and employment has narrowed significantly, women are still underrepresented in areas of science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM fields. Even with the push toward the math and sciences, the number of women choosing to study engineering and physics has remained static since 2012, while the industry continues to grow in global importance.
If these high-paying jobs are dominated by men, it’s not a stretch to say that the earning potential between men and women will continue to widen if we don’t start making changes now. One part of the problem is that fewer women get technical jobs, even if they work at a technology company.
About one in three employees at Google, Facebook and Apple is a woman. That’s an imbalance that tech sector executives Sheryl Sandberg and Tim Cook say they want to change. Yet even if their companies set a target of just over half their new recruits being women, a Breakingviews calculator shows that closing the gender gap will take up to 15 years.
In 2015, women like Murphy filled 24 percent of all science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) jobs in the U.S., according to a report released in November 2017 by the Economics and Statistics Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The phrase "like a girl" is undergoing a transformation. What was once an insult is now a compliment -- and it's thanks to partnerships like Always & Walmart Live #LikeAGirl in collaboration with Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). Together, they are on a mission to encourage girls' confidence in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and change the face of these industries.
As a multiracial female scientist who grew up in rural Lynden, Whatcom County, Barber DeGraaff is committed to smashing the public’s stereotypical idea of who a scientist is. “In the sciences, we’re taught to be objective and above our biases, but we’re not,” she says. “To get more women into tech, the students need programs encouraging girls to get involved early, but another layer needs to be faculty awareness and fellow student awareness on discrimination and bias – both gender and race.”
As of 2017, Girls Who Code had served more than 80,000 girls and now offers more than 5,000 programs. Its summer immersion program, a free seven-week classroom experience located on university campuses or at big tech companies nationwide, and its club program, which meets two hours after school in cities across the country, are just two examples of those programs.
The analysis from the Universities of Bath and Turin looked at the careers of 262 male and female scientists over a 10-year period, including citations (how much of their work is quoted by others), funding, and publications. And they found that female scientists often experienced a "motherhood penalty" that sounds a lot like sexism.
Despite its dismal reputation for gender equality, Saudi Arabia has a surprising level of female graduates in the so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Ranked among the bottom 20 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index in 2015, women nonetheless made up 39 percent of graduates in a cluster of “core” STEM subjects.