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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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Sometimes "Out With The Old In With The New" Isn't the Best thing

We can't lose touch of the simpler things in life

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When I think about how much has changed and how much my world has developed since I was little, I get mind boggled realizing how different things are. I work at a restaurant in the city that I grew up in and I see famillies come and go for dinner every night. They all seem the same. The parents will walk in, check in with the hostesses and wait to be seated. If they're asked to wait, the kids sit by their parents sides playing on phones that are probably too young to have. I understand that waiting can get tedious and boring. By the time that they would sit down, I'd imagine that they would put down the devices and engage in some good old fashion conversation. I was wrong. It made me sad to see kids eating dinners with their families with zero interaction. When I was younger, I enjoyed the quality conversations I would have with my family when we got breaks from our all very hectic schedules. It's amazing how much technology has advanced, but sometimes, I believe that we might rely on it too much.

Seems like more and more things are becoming industrialized. Those "mom and pop" shops are closing down due to corporate companies buying the land. I have enough Walmart and Targets in a ten minute radius from me. Sure, places like these carry necessities are important, but when local Nurseries are closed down in order to build a new gas station, it just becomes sad. As things progress more, the more we lose touch of our roots. The places that make home special and different. The moments we have as a kid that don't involve a light on our face. Modernism is a powerful and amazing thing but we need to take a step back and reevaluate what we hold closest to us.

All in all, as we continue to develop, I will continue to advocate for the simpler moments and the simpler times. I don't think my kids will need iPhones right out of elementary school, I'll continue to visit the same hometown shops and give them as much business as possible, I'll always ask if he kids want coloring sheets at the dinner table. Although these small things might not matter in our everyday new world, they matter to me. I will always try to have so much fun that I forget to document things with my phone. The laughter and memories without the technology present. Those are the moments worth remembering.

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