By Lilli DeBode, guest blogger, senior at Kent Place School
Girls are naturally bad at math, right? Wrong. Unfortunately though, this impression creeps into many young girls’ minds and turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy, inhibiting intellectual growth.
This stereotype, which is deeply rooted in our society, could explain why science, technology, engineer, and math (STEM) fields have always been male dominated.
Women in STEM jobs earn 33% more than women in other occupations and experience a smaller wage gap. Yet the gender gaps in these fields are some of the widest in America. Only one in every seven engineers is a woman, and 27% of computer science jobs are held by women. What’s worse? These numbers haven’t grown since 2000.
Jocelyn Goldfein, a director of engineering at Facebook explained, “The reason there aren’t more women computer scientists is because there aren’t more women computer scientists.” The entrenched stereotypes that men are supposed to be into math and science while women are into humanities and arts has left young women with no one to look up to and no footsteps to follow.
Now, when technology plays such a pivotal role in our society, the demand for more women in STEM fields is much greater. Luckily, measures have been made in order to increase the supply of girls willing to move into these fields.
In a few cities, programs are being brought to schools in order to cultivate interest in STEM in the new generation. These programs teach teachers more about STEM so that they can then relay the information to their students. They also send women engineers into schools to talk to the students and answer any questions they have, hopefully dispelling any incorrect preconceptions concerning STEM jobs. This is all very well on the smaller scale, but in order for these statistics to improve, changes must be made on the larger scale. Larger programs are necessary to reach all of the new generation in order to make science, technology, engineering, and math cooler for girls. As soon as they see that they are just as capable as the boys, girls will be able to achieve equality in these fields and make more technological advancements for the U.S. and the economy.
Sources and Resources: This post provides a personal account by a woman who became an engineer and is now working on bringing STEM into schools. This article in Forbes provides more suggestions about how America can get more girls interested in STEM career paths. This is an amazing three-minute video made by a young woman who created a children’s toy called GoldieBlox to spark an interest in engineering in young girls.