It’s 2022 and women are still being under-represented in various STEM fields
March is Women’s History Month.
While we shouldn’t JUST dedicate 31 days in a year to celebrate women’s achievements, it’s important to take this opportunity to bring more awareness to the issues of gender inequality especially in STEM fields.
A lot of progress has been made over the decades with more girls in school as ever before. However, girls and women are still under-represented in STEM careers.
According to the UNESCO report Cracking the code: Girls’ and women’s education in STEM, only 35% of STEM students in higher education globally are women, and differences are observed within STEM disciplines.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) published a research report called The STEM Gap: Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics that pointed to a few factors causing the issue:
- Gender Stereotypes
- Male-Dominated Cultures that are not supportive of /attractive to women and minorities
- Fewer Role Models that are represented in the media and pop culture
- Math Anxiety that most likely stemmed from the myth of the math brain (in which research has already shown that it’s false information).
Here are some of the ways that we could do to help close the gender gap.
Bring more awareness to the importance of STEM education for girls and women.
The UNESCO Science Report 2021 pointed out that closing the gender gap in STEM education would have a positive impact on economic growth.
Women must be given equal access to education and information that will enable them to compete equally with men for the jobs of the future, says UNESCO.
Highlight more women leaders to inspire the future generation
From the great chemist and physicist Marie Curie (who was the only woman in history to win two Nobel Prizes) to Mae Jemison (the First African American woman to travel to space), there are many great role models to highlight and to inspire students.
Improve STEM education by providing additional support for teachers
According to the AAUW, teachers need to go through additional professional development opportunities to address implicit and systemic biases to raise awareness about girls’ math abilities, avoid passing on math anxiety and ensure boys and girls are held to the same standards.
Make STEM classes fun and collaborative
STEM can often be negatively perceived as boring and “dry”. Through promoting hands-on experiential learning for STEM, we can show students that STEM is fun and collaborative.
At Wiz Robotics, this has always been at the core of our classes. We try to make STEM fun and engaging for students to inspire them to continue to learn STEM and apply the skills they learned in class to everyday life.
Additionally, with the current Wiz Prodigy Online STEM Competition that we are hosting, students can work individually or in teams to build and compete with their own space rover. The Competition curriculum will provide the basic foundations of STEM skills but the rest will be up to the students to explore! This is the perfect way for students to explore STEM and think outside of the box.
Expose STEM to every student at a young age
Correcting negative perceptions and eliminate biases at a young age can help students embrace STEM. This will give students an opportunity to take up an interest in STEM and provide them with ample time to learn more throughout their academic years.
Here are a few additional readings:
- 9 books to read during Women’s History Month in 2022 — interstingengineering.com
- 6 Things Successful Women in STEM Have in Common — HBR.com
- Career Advice For Future Female STEM Leaders — Forbes