The paper aims to explore the main reasons why women are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects and careers. It analyzes the feminist approach to the situation critically. Women do not only opt for STEM education but also leave and get paid less in STEM. These are some of the reasons as to why the number of women in STEM remains down despite the increase in the number o girls that study STEM programs and take STE jobs (Diekman, Brown, Johnston, & Clark, 2010, p.1052).
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The environment itself is affecting the interests and motivation of women and girls in the stem. In middle school and high school, many girls have an interest in STEM subject nearly equal numbers as women. However, A report from the American Association of university women indicates that the number of women interested in STEM courses decreases when they join colleges and universities due to the learning environment and social belief system. Study shows that women that believe that learning and experience can expand intelligence are more likely to do better in maths and also are interested in pursuing the science courses in the future (Beede, Julian, Langdon, McKittrick, Khan,& Doms, 2011). This implies that the growth mindset can have a significant impact on the motivation and interest of girls in the Stem career and subjects.
Also, social bias affects the career choices and progress of women. Research shows that the society view fields of STEM as masculine up to date (Beede et al., 2011). Women are viewed by society as less competitive and favorable in engineering and science jobs compared to men unless they show a considerable success. Women's emotions and motivation at their jobs and in society are directly affected by these stereotypes. It is thus resulting in the few women that were in STEM to quit their careers, stating that there are isolation and hostility at their workplace.
In addition, workplaces, universities, and colleges are not making the necessary changes to accommodate women. Unlike in the middle school and high school, colleges and universities have little or no support and options or girls to develop STEM skills, thus diminishing the number of women in STEM. Few girls keep their motivation and interest in STEM careers beyond high school; therefore, very few students enroll in STEM degrees resulting in few female graduates in technology, science, and engineering fields (Clark, 2005, p.375). Thus, social belies, environment, and stereotypes significantly determine the likeliness of girls and women to retain their motivation and interest in STEM subjects and pursue their passion in their future.
Furthermore, lack o role models is another reason for women under-representation in STEM. Due to the lack of women in STEM, students, young girls, and university graduates do not have role models to inspire them to opt into STEM jobs. However, the public opinion on what women in STEM should be or look like is based on biases and stereotypes. For example, OneLogic (a software company) launched a recruitment marketing campaign featuring an attractive female engineer in 2015(Clark, 2005, p.378). The public negatively received this, and people, especially men, were complaining that an engineer should not look like that.
In conclusion, when it comes to STEM, women are not inferior to men. The biological difference does not cause a lack of women in STEM. However, it is caused by a lack of role models, lack o necessary changes in the society to accommodate women, social biases, and the environment that shapes the interest and motivation of women. Therefore, if STEM workplaces, colleges, and universities would implement the necessary changes to accommodate women and give them the more positive environment and support to focus on their skills without pressure just like men, the number o women in STEM would increase.
- Beede, D. N., Julian, T. A., Langdon, D., McKittrick, G., Khan, B., & Doms, M. E. (2011). Women in STEM: A gender gap to innovation. Economics and Statistics Administration Issue Brief (04-11).
- Clark Blickenstaff*, J. (2005). Women and science careers: leaky pipeline or gender filter?. Gender and education, 17(4), 369-386.
- Diekman, A. B., Brown, E. R., Johnston, A. M., & Clark, E. K. (2010). Seeking congruity between goals and roles: A new look at why women opt out of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers. Psychological Science, 21(8), 1051-1057.