Barilka has a theory about why girls’ participation wanes. Middle school turns into a more social environment for girls around seventh grade, she said. They start to care more about what people think and are less willing to put themselves in a situation where they can fail or not have the right answers, she said. Girls start to show an aversion to math and science in middle school, echoed Earle. “It’s cultural,” he said, adding most of the time the girls excel in the fields.
For years, girls and young women have been a critical missing part of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) studies and careers. The stubborn gender disparity in STEM fields has sparked important debates on the underlying reasons. Some attribute the gender disparity to social and infrastructural factors, lack of mentors and role models, and lack of awareness about what these fields offer in terms of educational and career opportunities.
On the whole, more women are going into STEM fields than ever before--but STEM, as we already know, is an abbreviation that makes up several different academic disciplines (in this case, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). And while women are definitely applying to STEM majors in general, computer science is a field that hasn't exactly broken major ground when it comes to diversity.
A study by a team of researchers from Dartmouth, the University at Buffalo and Carnegie Mellon University has found that gender affects an individual’s perception of women’s anxiety in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. Men are more likely than women to attribute this anxiety and self-doubt to internal factors, while women usually attribute such emotions to external factors.
As awareness of bias has increased, so too have efforts to address the subtle ways in which women find their work devalued. But in many institutions, women still struggle to get male peers and supervisors to acknowledge the problem.
Schappach and Zapata-Ramirez are two of 120 women enrolled in WCSU’s biology program, where female students account for about 58 percent of the total. But while women represent the majority of students in life sciences, they are still underrepresented in most of the other STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This year at WCSU, women account for just 36.5 percent of those enrolled in STEM programs.
As Women's History Month nears its close in 2018, many people have been reflecting on the struggles women have faced in the past and the strides they are making toward changing the future. Tech is one area of specific interest here, as it's a place where women have traditionally been under-represented. But is that changing too?
With our new series TechMAKERS, produced in association with Melinda Gates, MAKERS aims to empower the next generation of innovators to pursue STEM-related careers by highlighting five extraordinary women in aerospace engineering, artificial intelligence, robotics and more.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, in the U.S. alone, women held 47 percent of all jobs in 2015, but only 24 percent of these were in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Yet while some countries still have a long way to go to ensure women are integrated and represented in STEM fields, others are winning the gender battle.
STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers are equally appealing to female and male students, but the achievement gap between the two groups continues, with females again trailing males in terms of readiness for college STEM coursework, according to ACT’s newly released report, STEM Education in the U.S.: Where We Are and What We Can Do.