While it is true that the number of females working in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) -centered careers rose from 7 percent in 1970 to 26 percent 2011, there is still a long way to go until both women and men share an equal number of jobs in these fields. It is clear that significantly fewer women than men hold careers in STEM. Fortunately, though, there are many ways that women can become involved in these disciplines.
Why are There So Few Women in STEM?
Could it be they just aren’t interested? The lack of women in STEM actually has to do with social influences–often times very subtle social influences. It might seem that females are naturally drawn to careers in non-science areas. After all, little girls typically play with dolls and little boys play with cars and bugs. However, much of this behavior is a result of social conditioning–even the behavior of very young children.
There is a psychological phenomenon known as “stereotype threat.” The stereotype threat posits that when you are reminded of a stereotype that applies to you, your behavior is more likely to fit that stereotype than it would otherwise. For example, there is a stereotype that men are better at math than women. When a woman is taking a math test in a room filled with mostly men, she is likely to do worse on the test than if there was a more even gender split in the room. Even if this woman logically discredits the stereotype, she still may believe it on an unconscious, or implicit, level. This means it will still have an impact on her performance. Women, then, may simply feel like they don’t have the skills they need to succeed in a STEM career.
Recruiting Women in STEM Fields
The first step towards increasing the number of females in the STEM fields is to get girls interested in these areas at a young age. Teach girls about women who have had successful careers in STEM. Encourage role models such as Marie Curie, Dian Fossey, Rachel Carson, Peggy Whitson, Katherine Johnson, and Jane Goodall. Promote a “growth mindset” in children; teach them that they aren’t born with a set amount of intelligence, rather, with hard work your can learn whatever your wish to learn.
Teach girls that they can be good at math, that they can be good at physics, that they can be good at computer technology. Encourage girls to take math and science classes.
It is also important to encourage young women to pursue their STEM goals throughout their college careers. Universities can achieve this by actively recruit female students into STEM majors and supporting the female students working towards these degrees.
Those who are interested in STEM education should consider looking into the STEM program at Linfield College. This program provides students with interdisciplinary experiences, research, and internship opportunities. The program also has scholarship opportunities that help students financially who need it.
Women in the Medical Field
Nursing is one of the few science fields in which females are prevalent. Nurses are certainly a vital part of our society, since they provide many people with much-needed healthcare. In today’s modern world, nurses are expected to meet high educational requirements. Registered nurses who wish to further their education should look for an accredited RN to BSN degree program from a school such as Bay State College.
While women seem to dominate nursing, females make up less than half of the doctors in the United States. There are many medical conditions in which men and women respond differently or show different symptoms. For example, men and females exhibit different symptoms when experiencing a heart attack. Most medical research has been done with male subjects. This means that differences in men and women have often been missed. Recommended doses for medications are typically based on the average-sized male, which isn’t always an appropriate amount for females. Encouraging women to be doctors will not only even out the statistics of male and female doctors in the US, but more women working in the field will likely lead to more research involving female subject. In turn, this would allow doctors to provide better health advice to female patients.
Women who wish to go to medical school can focus on a large range of specialties. There are more women in some specialties than others. For example, around 31 percent of dentists are female. Women wishing to pursue a career in dentistry should consider looking at a reputable program such as Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. This school is also home to a dental practice in New Brunswick, NJ. In fact, many of the practitioners are also faculty members at the University, which means they are involved in the latest research in the field.
There are many other specialties where male doctors are more prevalent. Only 9 percent of urologists and 13 percent of cardiologists are female. Women make up 38 percent of the nations family practitioners. Most specialists treat both male and female patients, so why not push for more female doctors?
Engineering and the Automotive Industry
Engineering is particularly lacking in females. In 2011, 13 percent of those working in engineering were female. For comparison, women make up 61 percent of the social sciences workforce and 47 percent of the mathematics workforce.
Diversity, in all fields, is important for the industries success; more diversity means more ideas. People think differently, and they have different ideas on what problems need to be solved and how to solve them. This is particularly important when it comes to engineering. Having both female and male minds in the field will expand the pool of imaginative ideas available for engineers to work with.
In 2014, women held about 25 percent of jobs that dealt with motor vehicles. However, when it comes to buying cars, women make 80 percent of the decisions, and more women than men have drivers licenses. However, less than 20 percent of engineers that work for the automotive industry are female. If more women drive than men, then why aren’t more automotive jobs being held by females?
Cars and men might be a stereotypical pairing, but that doesn’t mean women can’t break the stereotype–because they most certainly can. Students, both male and female, can learn everything they need to from schools such as this automotive & diesel technology college in NY. This program prepares students for the ASE Automotive Certification and prepares the students to go into the workforces.
It might be intimidating for young women to enter into fields where they are the minority. However, going into these fields is so important. If females of today’s generations pursue these careers, it will just make it easier for girls of future generations to fulfill their dreams of become astronauts, physicists, computer scientists, or whatever else they wish to be.