I Am Challenging The Unconscious Gender Bias In STEM Fields

I Am Challenging The Unconscious Gender Bias In STEM Fields

When Women Are Steered Away From STEM
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Something you see a lot of articles about is women in STEM fields. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math, and generally encompasses any career that’s “techy.” Generally, you see a lot of articles about the underrepresentation of women in STEM. According to research from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are 48% of the workforce, yet only about 24% of STEM jobs. As a girl who’s been active in STEM, namely engineering focused, I think that this needs to be changed.

A lot of the discouragement that females face is mostly unconscious, things we don’t even realize is happening. Google images for “engineer,” you only see stock photos of men building buildings, working with tools, or overseeing work sites. If you are a young girl, you don’t see people who look like you. Studies show that not being able to identify with someone or something discourages interest. As girls show more interest in STEM in middle or high school, the discouragement from either peers or superiors only grows. In high school, I was on an all-girls robotics team, the largest and most decorated girls’ team in the world. However, when we placed second at a very competitive regional, the adult mentor of another team who didn’t place told us “not bad for a couple of Girl Scouts.” When I went to an engineering camp, I was one of three girls in our fifteen person group. When I was chosen to lead the group in the simple task of building wooden gliders, the majority of the boys questioned my every move or didn’t listen. When we repeated the task a few days later, this time with one of the guys leading it, I had never seen a more cooperative group of boys. When the group was building a shed, the guys automatically gave us three girls the jobs of painting or getting supplies, or would either refuse our help or take the tools away, saying “Oh we got this” or “It’s ok, I can do it.” I could have learned so much more if I could have helped more. I still enjoyed the camp, but sometimes I wonder how much more I could have done.

I fully understand that this will never change if people just complain. However, many men asked about gender bias in STEM don’t believe that the discrimination exists. Even with countless reports. This problem boils down to an “I don’t experience it, therefore it must not be real” or “I don’t discriminate, I’m sure the people I work with don’t” mindset. The unconscious bias leads to underestimation of female colleagues, rejecting a resume with a female name yet accepting the same resume with a male name, or pushing stereotypes on young children. “That’s for boys.” “You can’t use the blocks, you’re a girl.” The gap is narrowing, however, as more parents are more conscious of “boy toys” or letting their children play with both dolls and cars. This gap will not vanish until there is a culture shift among the older generations. Women are still seen as less professional, and the same characteristics that let men be termed “a strong leader” or “authoritative” are often labeled in women as “bossy”, “naggy” or even “she’s a b*tch.” The only thing for us to do is know and trust our own worth, and find others who value our intelligence too.

I am an engineer. Sure, I’m not a very good one yet. But I love messing with how things work too much to stop now. There is no true picture of what an engineer looks like.

Cover Image Credit: Kanchan Potter

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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Coping With The Loss Of A Passion

It's hard to get it back once you lose it.

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In college, time to focus on passions seems limited. The homework, essays, group projects, and exams are never-ending.

In high school, I took my free time for granted. I was dancing four hours four nights a week, but I wasn't constantly stressed. I had time to focus on my passion, which is dance.

In college, I am a part of an amazing dance club. But I don't get to compete, take technique classes, or be with the team I was with since I was 8 years old. Now, I receive videos of my team from home's amazing performances, and it aches a bit. I am so proud and happy for their growth but jealous that they have more years than I do. It is nearly impossible to find technique classes at college to take with no car, little free time, and barely any money. I miss my team, I miss my dance teachers and choreographers, and I miss competitions, but most of all, I miss the person I was when I had the opportunity to pursue my passion several hours a week.

My passion will always be there, and I do get to pursue dance on a smaller scale with some amazing dancers in college, but I am coping with the fact that I will never do another competition with my team again, I will never be able to dance with them again, and I will never be able to learn from my dance teachers again. It's a hard loss, one that I think about every day.

To anyone who still has the opportunities to pursue their passions to the fullest extent, you are lucky. Not everyone gets the chance to keep up with their sport, passion, or activity that they dedicated all of their time to in high school. Don't take a single second of it for granted, and remember why you are doing what you are doing. Take time to reflect on why you love it so much, how it makes you feel, and how you can express yourself during it. Whatever this passion or activity is, make every second count.

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