Perspectives From A Woman In STEM
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Perspectives From A Woman In STEM

9
Perspectives From A Woman In STEM

When I tell people I’m a computer science major, most people's eyebrows shoot up as they respond with, “Wow, really?” Most people think of computer scientists as boy-geniuses who are more comfortable sitting in front of a computer screen than carrying on a conversation. The problem with this stereotype is that it perpetuates an environment in which anyone who differs from the stereotype is perceived as lesser in knowledge or qualification.

On the first day of my first college computer science class, I walked into the lecture hall armed with a pink notebook and high expectations. As class went on, my confidence faded. To say I stuck out is a bit of an understatement. The nearest girl sat two rows up and I was otherwise surrounded by guys with seemingly enough programming experience that taking notes was unnecessary for them. It felt like I had a sign on my back that read, “She doesn’t belong here," that everyone could read but me.

Although my experience was with computer science, women across STEM fields share similar experiences. The truth is, STEM fields have been historically dominated by men. This fact, coupled with the extremely uneven ratio between men and women, perpetuates the stereotypical male computer scientist and makes it hard for women to break into the field. Women in technical fields start at a disadvantage; they have to gain the respect of their peers by proving their intelligence, while many male computer scientists are just assumed to be knowledgeable because they look the part.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of perks to being a professional woman in a STEM field. Because women are less common in technical fields, they are more highly sought by employers. This makes them competitive candidates for good jobs when they reach the workforce. As a result of this, the wage gap in technical fields is significantly smaller (and in some cases, nonexistent) between men and women. It definitely pays to get a degree in a technical field as a woman, but getting there can be tough.

Computer science, along with other STEM fields, is a difficult major--even more so when it feels like you’re a minnow swimming among sharks. The number of women in technical classes tends to decrease as the difficulty increases. This means that the number of women graduating with a degree in a technical field is even less than the number of women entering a technical major--which is pretty small to begin with.

Women entering technical fields definitely face an uphill battle. People expect computer scientists to be super smart guys sitting in front of computer screens all day, and are often surprised when they see a different face fulfilling that role. This creates an extra barrier for women; because they don’t fulfill the stereotype, they must prove they are just as smart as their male counterparts. The good news is, even with the added challenges for women, getting to graduation is not impossible. And once you get there, you can embrace all those shocked comments, because you know you beat the odds to be successful.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Featured

Panic! At The Disco Announces Breakup After 19 Years

Band Makes Breakup Announcement Official: 'Will Be No More'

6986
panic at the disco

It's the end of an era. Originally formed in 2004 by friends in Las Vegas, Panic! At The Disco is no more.

Brendon Urie announced on Instagram that the band will be coming to an end after the upcoming Europe tour. He said that he and his wife are expecting a baby, and the life change weighed heavily in his mind to come to this decision. "Sometimes a journey must end for a new one to begin," he said.

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

Top 3 Response Articles of This Week

Odyssey's response writer community is growing- read what our new writers have to say!

12967
https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-writing-on-white-book-1043514/
https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-typing-on-type...

Each week, more response writers are joining the Odyssey community. We're excited to spotlight their voices on as they engage in constructive dialogue with our community. Here are the top three response articles of last week:

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

To Mom

There are days when you just need your mom

22259
To Mom

There really is no way to prepare yourself for the loss of someone. Imagine that someone being the one who carried you for 9th months in their belly, taught you how to walk, fought with you about little things that only a mother and daughter relationship could understand. You can have a countless number of father figures in your life, but really as my mom always said, " you only get one mom."

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

The Way People In Society are Dating is Why I Don't Date

I need someone to show that they want me for me, not that they're using me to chase the idea of being in a relationship.

22997
The Way People In Society are Dating is Why I Don't Date
rawpixel

You hear your phone go off. He's asking you to hang out. Then, of course, you get the advice of your friends to decipher this text. Is it just hanging out or is it more than hanging out? You've probably done this at least once in your life or at least seen a tweet where someone posted their screenshots with a potential love interest.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

Winter Break As Told By 'Friends'

Is a month at home too much to handle?

14659

If you're anything like me, winter break is a much-needed light at the end of the tunnel after a long, stressful semester. Working hard for 15 weeks can really take a toll on a person mentally, physically AND emotionally. It's a nice change of pace to be back at home with your family and friends, but after a couple weeks, it can get, well... boring.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments