Participation of Girls and Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Innovation in science and technology is a key to a country’s competitiveness at the global stage—America is no exception. There is no doubt that nations having an edge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) will lead the world, and those offering equal space to their women force will actually win.

2018 UC Davis C-STEM GIRL Camp
Source 2018 UC Davis C-STEM GIRL Camp

Science and technology touches every aspect of human lives. In recent times, mobile and internet technologies alone have revolutionized the way we conduct our lives and businesses.

We connect and communicate with people around the world via live video calls. We access, consume, and exchange information while on the go. We entertain ourselves to our favorite music and shows, on-demand. We monitor our health and wellness around the clock. We have virtual assistants to guide our journeys. We have long been shopping from the comfort of our homes. We secure our houses without hiring guards. All this is possible because of STEM.

STEM makes everything that we can imagine possible. And, it gives us the power to re-imagine everything as there is always a better way to do the same thing.

BLS forecasts that by 2022, STEM jobs will grow by 13%, compared to 9% growth in non-STEM jobs, and California will account for the largest STEM workforce in the country.

The challenge, however, is that not enough boys and girls are opting for STEM courses. Only 36% of the graduates pursue college level course in Science. The numbers further dwindle as we look at women’s representation. While in the middle school a vast majority of girls show interest in science and mathematics, meager 0.3% of them actually graduate with a degree in computers (source Girls Who Code). The result is that only 20-22% of the STEM college graduates are females.

STEM jobs on an average pay double the hourly wage compared to non-STEM jobs. To improve the economic parity for women, it’s critical that they are provided the needed encouragement and support all the way to take up STEM as their career paths.

Diversity fuels innovation. A nation cannot offer most innovative solutions to world’s problems by leveraging only half of its potential. And it cannot attain and sustain economic advantage without bringing along its female force.

An environment free of stereotypes and implicit biasa growing list of role models in science and technology field, support structure, and encouragement at home, school, college, work, and communitycan help girls and women pursue their STEM dreams fearlessly.

Many organizations (public, private, and not for profit) are already running various programs to encourage girls and women to take up STEM in high school and college level. But a lot remains to be done and we all can do our part by making girls believe that they are no less, that they can do anything they want, and that STEM is fun and extremely fulfilling. We all can do our part to ensure girls and women are given equal opportunities to exploit their full potential.

Read: The development of stereotypes in the elementary school

By Ramna Sharma, Author of Gritty Girl: Celebrating Girls and Women


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