This past week we celebrated International Women’s Day, which represents the day we fight for equality among men and women. As a woman, I support this cause completely. Women and men should be represented equality in the workforce, however, this is not the case. There have been numerous studies that researched the gap between men and women in STEM related research. This gap reveals much more than just the fact that women are not publishing as much research as men. This uncovers the increasing lack of women in the STEM field- science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The fact that women are not engaging as much in this professional path should raise concerns in not only the current educational system but also in the implications this will have if the STEM field keeps being dominated by men.
The main concern I have is if the current educational system does not promote women’s ability in math and science as much as it promotes it in men. Is there a specific reason women are not pursuing careers in the STEM field or does society as whole play an important role in this monumental decision?
Society places a greater burden on women, mainly because of the idea that they should eventually place their career on hold in order to take care of their family, which is completely fine by me because this hold is part of a women’s nature. Inherently, we want to take care of our family and our household, however, I do not agree with the fact that this maternal instinct should lead women to choose a different career path.
STEM careers are rigorous and demanding, so women consider it not worth it to go through all the hard work if eventually they will place this accomplishment “on hold” due to societal expectations. Women should pursue a career in the STEM field regardless if they will eventually either place their career “on hold” or manage to have both a family and a successful career.
Women are as capable as men to have both a successful career and a family. One should not have to give up either one because ‘society’ does not think it’s possible.
The other issue I would like to point out is the fact that elementary and high school teachers might not be nurturing mathematical abilities when they should and in the way they should. Teachers have, indirectly, an immense influence on the career path students choose. If a Calculus teacher makes it the most unappealing subject ever taught, one cannot expect students to develop the interest in pursuing an applied mathematics major or any major that involves any extensive mathematical knowledge. “Young girls are rarely encouraged to pursue math and science, which is problematic considering studies show a lack of belief in intellectual growth can actually inhibit it. In addition, there exists an unconscious bias that science and math are typically “male” fields while humanities and arts are primarily “female” fields, and these stereotypes further inhibit girls’ likelihood of cultivating an interest in math and science.”
There is still a long way to go to encourage girls to break the stereotypes but I know we will be there one day. One girl at a time.