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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Getting Straight A's In College Is Not Worth Failing Your Mental Health

A's are nice, but you are more than a letter.

Kate
Kate
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The idea of getting an A on every paper, every exam, every assignment, seems great. It can be known as a reassurance of our hard work and dedication to our 4+ classes we attend every single day.

Losing sleep, skipping meals, forgetting to drink water, skipping out on time with friends and family; these are the things that can occur when your letter of an A is what you are living for.

You are worth more than the grade letter, or the GPA number on your transcript.

Listen, don't get me wrong, getting A's and B's definitely is something to feel accomplished for. It is the approval that you did it, you completed your class, and your hard work paid off.

But honey, get some sleep.

Don't lose yourself, don't forget who you are. Grades are important, but the true measurement of self-worth and accomplishment is that you tried your best.

Trying your best, and working hard for your goals is something that is A-worthy.

Reserve time for yourself, for your sanity, your health, your mental health.

At the end of the day, grades might look nice on a piece of paper, but who you are and how you represent yourself can be even more honorable.

Kate
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Martha McSally Could Still End Up In The Senate

Yep, you read that right. Martha McSally, who lost the senate race a month ago, could still end up in the U.S. Senate next to her former opponent, Kyrsten Sinema.

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Martha McSally was the Republican nominee for Senate during the 2018 midterms in Arizona. She lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema by roughly 55,900 votes. But many are speculating that McSally could still end up representing Arizona in the U.S. Senate. Jon Kyl, who was tapped to replace former Senator John McCain after his death said he will not stay in the Senate after this session ends. McCain's term doesn't end until 2022, but Kyl has remained adamant that he will not serve past this year. This leads to the question of who will replace him next year. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has the power to appoint Kyl's replacement if he decides to leave at the end of this session. Several think McSally will be the name he chooses. McSally would have a tough road ahead. It could be easier for her to win elections because she would be considered the incumbent.

State law requires that the Governor appoint someone of the same political party as the late senator. That would mean a Republican would have to be appointed, causing speculation that McSally would be that person. If appointed, she would have a tough road ahead of her. There would be a special election in 2020 to fill McCain's term, and then another election in 2022 to start a new term. All of this comes just weeks after Sinema defeated her in the Senate election. Most think that McSally is the front-runner for the seat.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is lobbying hard to get her in the Senate. Other possible situations could arise such as Governor Ducey appointing himself to fill the seat. This one seems unlikely, however, considering if he does appoint himself, the next person to take the governorship would be Secretary of State-elect, Katie Hobbs, who is a Democrat. McSally is the strong front-runner for the seat and could end up next to her former opponent. We'll have to see how it plays out in the end, and we will certainly know who will or will not be filling this seat within the next few weeks.

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