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.
Getting girls curious about science is essential to the future of the agriculture sector. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, women filled 47 percent of all U.S. jobs in 2015 but held only 24 percent of STEM jobs. At the same time, there is a shortfall of graduates with expertise in food, agriculture, natural resources, and the environment, according to a recent Purdue University study.
A mentoring program created by women engineering students at Georgia Institute of Technology to train and empower the next generation of girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is bearing fruit, underscoring the importance of fostering community and having role models in order to support women pursuing STEM degrees and careers.
If the creators of the girls-only online cybersecurity competition Girls Go CyberStart are successful, some of these high schoolers will get hooked on the quickly expanding and well-paying field of cybersecurity and, in the process, help offset one of technology’s deepest gender gaps: Just 11 percent of cybersecurity professionals today are women.
One woman who is successful in a traditionally male industry, Azita Martin, CMO of Maana.io, spoke with me to share her advice on what it takes to succeed in STEM fields. Her first piece of advice is one that many business women have heard before but carries added weight in STEM fields: speak up,but make sure you have done your research and backup your opinion with data.
America's largest companies have a long way to go before they can achieve equal pay -- the National Women's Law Center reports American women make $0.80 for men's $1.00-- but companies like General Motors and PepsiCo are making changes that pay women and men equally for the same work and foster pathways to higher-paying leadership positions.