For generations, women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) have been judged and dismissed for their gender. The stereotype that only men are capable of succeeding in these fields has plagued women for decades, leading to a significant gender gap in these industries. Today, however, women are fighting back against this bias and are making significant strides in STEM. Despite this, they are often still overlooked, undervalued, and discriminated against.
One of the most significant issues that women face in STEM is the lack of representation. According to research by the Society of Human Resource Management, women hold only 28% of STEM jobs and only 3% of leadership positions in these fields. This lack of representation affects everything from pay to promotions. As a result, there are few female leaders who inspire girls to explore STEM.
Another issue that women face in STEM is the prevalence of gender bias and discrimination. Many women report experiencing microaggressions, such as being interrupted or talked over in meetings. This culture of male dominance also leads to women being excluded from important projects and other opportunities. As a high school senior, Shruti Alladi, eloquently put it, "the stigma continues to be present in the community today due to people passing down the stigma that was formed in a more conservative time in the past. The past shapes the beliefs of the present."
The gender gap in STEM is a complex issue with no easy solution. To create an equitable and inclusive society, we must first recognize the biases that exist and tackle them head-on. This means creating more recruitment and training programs specifically targeting women in STEM. As Cooper MacArthur, a male in the robotics field, describes, "the stigma can be lessened by pushing women into the STEM field at an early age," since both genders won’t subconsciously feel the stigma or uncomfortableness as seen in the real world nowadays. Also, women can take advantage of this stigma by learning to improve themselves from the experiences they face due to the stereotype. As Alladi declared, "They think I am dumb; I will give them dumb." She implies that women should motivate themselves to do better because of the struggles they face due to the stigma against women in STEM. Thus, the stigma isn’t only a barrier to success for many women but also a catalyst to improve themselves.
With these initiatives and ideas in place, we can start to see progress in improving the gender gap in STEM fields and creating a more equitable society where people of all genders have equal opportunity for success.
D.K. is a student from the United States. In her free time, she reads mysteries, plays guitar, roller-skates around her neighborhood, and volunteers in her community. She believes True to You will help youth raise awareness of community issues.