Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) are ever-changing fields of study. One thing, however, has remained the same for far too long. Women make up the minority in the STEM industry; for example, a study done in 2016 by the National Science Foundation estimated that only 15% of engineers were female. Even in 2019, there are virtually no girls in STEM fields.
Where did it all begin?
While growing up, girls excel in math and science courses. However, this takes a dramatic turn in High School, where more focus is put on how well they “fit in”, rather than how smart they are. As happens on many occasions, the smart girls around the school aren’t always very popular. These girls are labeled as “nerds”, “geeks”, or “losers” and are not allowed to “fit in.” They may even be shamed into thinking their love of math and science is wrong. Some in society teach girls that only boys can be good at those things. Meanwhile, boys are praised for how well they do in STEM subjects. Girls in STEM need to be given the opportunity to be supported in these subjects just as the boys are.
I experienced this bias firsthand while in high school. I told my guidance counselor that I wanted to major in Chemistry or Biology in college. She responded, “That’s going to be really hard, ask for help from the boys in your class.” Hearing this made me angry, but I shrugged it off and carried on. The disparity between boys and girls in STEM didn’t end when I went to college and had my first semester of Science classes. With a full semester of Physics, Organic Chemistry, and Genetics, I was beyond excited! When I walked into my first class, I ended up sitting next to the only other girl in all of those classes. Ultimately, she dropped two of those courses halfway through the semester. Her parents thought it was too hard for her and didn’t support her choice of major.
Why is this a problem?
Our voice deserves to be heard! Women make up half of all users in the world, yet only 18% of them hold a degree in Computer Science (according to U.S News.) In addition, women make up more than half of yearly medical appointments; however, more than 80% of Physicians in the US are males. Programs are being created for smart homes, cars, and media without giving thought to their primary users: women. Since women make up half the population, they need to be represented in all fields and should be encouraged to pursue STEM subjects.
More support needs to be given to girls in STEM fields. Women deserve to be supported by society for their love of STEM programs. This includes girls in middle and high schools with a love of math and science. These girls are every bit as deserving as boys of encouragement and support in these subjects.