WANT Original Content
In a world of new technology, innovation and gaining equality, women remain underrepresented in STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Tech hubs like Silicon Valley are dominated by men. So are math graduate degree programs and physics labs. Yet pockets of smart, innovative women are popping up worldwide. As they share their stories, the picture of the lack of women in STEM becomes clear.
The great disparity between men and women in STEM careers has little to do with actual gender difference and more to do with educational backgrounds and extrinsic life expectations. Many young women aren’t being encouraged by family and peers to work in STEM. And if they are, most feel shunned, marginalized, undervalued from this male dominated field.
One approach to fostering a cultural acceptance of women in STEM is starting from the ground up. During elementary and middle school gender roles start to form and girls start to get pressured out of STEM activities. Meanwhile, grassroots revolutions inspiring women and girls’ involvement in STEM areas are cropping up. Organizations like FIRST Robotics, a worldwide high school robotics league, sponsor women-only events like Girls Generation to help girls gain footing in the leadership and technical aspects of robotics typically snapped up by boys on the team. By participating in Girls Generation, members gain the experience necessary to actively participate in all aspects of robotics.
Here in the Northwest, events like Girls Generation foster a sense of community for girls interested in robotics, hopefully inspiring them to pursue higher education in STEM fields.
Many women and girls out there yearn to be involved in the fields of science and technology but just don’t have the confidence or opportunities to get involved. By engaging and empowering these girls, schools and companies nurture the next generation of women scientists, computer programmers and math professors. A generation of a strong women wait to unlock their potential and find their STEM passion, they just need equal encouragement and skills to do so.