By Tiffany Rowe
Our technological world is expanding at an astounding rate and jobs in the STEM industry remain in high demand. Those holding degrees in math, technology, engineering, and the sciences have, in many cases, their pick of lucrative and rewarding jobs. When you add an advanced degree in one of those subjects or in business then the opportunities are seemingly endless.
However, while the world as a whole is contributing to advancements in these areas, the people who secure these jobs are overwhelmingly men. Women are represented equally in some of these fields but engineering and computer science degrees are given to only about 29 percent of female undergraduates. University classrooms where STEM classes are taught are generally filled with male students. Some women are the sole representatives of their gender in these classes.
Many of us have long been told that this gender gap in these fields is related to the notion that girls receive less encouragement than their male counterparts to tackle these subjects during their lower educational years. While this can’t be proven, the simple fact that men far outnumber women in the STEM industries can’t be ignored.
While you may hear many different reasons why this occurs, we’re going to look at some solutions that can help women boost their power in the STEM job market and bring their unique talents to the industry.
Erase the Stigma
Many people erroneously believe that girls are not supported nor encouraged to take on advanced classes in mathematics and sciences during their younger years or that they’re not as capable as boys are. Factually this is untrue as both boys and girls show equal results on aptitude tests for these subjects.
Women and girls are more than capable of learning the fundamentals of higher mathematics and sciences when they’re given the opportunity. However, the stigma still exists that girls are less capable of excelling at these subjects than boys are. Younger children are experiencing less of this today than they were even just a few years ago, but young women in high school and college may still feel that these fields are not right for them or that they won’t succeed.
What Parents and Educators Can Do
While educational trends and how they focus on female students are changing, there are still many things that parents and educators can do to encourage interest in these subjects. Childhood curiosity knows no gender so if your daughter shows an interest in computers, math, or science do all you can to encourage that.
Learning how to write code comes very easily for younger children just as foreign languages do. If you’re an educator, encourage your school district’s administrators to implement these classes for children in lower grades. There has been a push to encourage more coding education, backed by the likes of Amazon, Google, Code.org, and more. As of just a few years ago, only 0.4 percent of college-bound women intended to major in computer science.
What Women Can Do for Themselves
Many women who have already attended university and achieved a degree in an unrelated field may think they’re now unqualified for any type of job in the STEM industry. Fortunately that’s not always the case. Many women who have undergraduate degrees in arts or humanities can take additional classes to better familiarize themselves with the fundamentals.
Earning online MBAs is a great way to get an edge in the industry. Advanced business degrees almost always include the option to narrow the focus of the program and these focuses do include some science and technology. Plus, innovations made in science and technology are useless unless the right person has the business and marketing skills to introduce them successfully to the public or direct them to the proper channels for further research and development.
It’s very easy to realize that, given the complex nature of our changing society and environment, that people with the technological skills and education to continue to make advancements for the benefit of society are invaluable. In fact, our lives and the lives of generations to come may depend on the technology we perfect and discover today. All of us can only benefit from having as many people tasked with solving complex problems as we can and that needs to include women. And with the right education, encouragement, and tools there’s no reason that can’t happen.