Women in STEM Fields – Why We’re Still Not Yet Bridging the Gender Gap
Eighty years ago the average woman knew more about cooking and cleaning than most of us today know about anything, but while the role of women in society has rapidly changed and evolved into a much more complex one than that of a home worker, many opinions have not changed. Many girls are still taught that science is a thing for boys, and that being a geek or being intelligent is to be ostracized in society.
Despite that prejudice, women are quickly learning to step up and fill their own shoes in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), and despite the fact that many girls are encouraged to go into more traditional female roles from a young age, more and more women are now stepping into STEM roles.
Some examples are already quite famous, like Lisa Kudrow who has a degree in Biology, and Natalie Portman who has a degree from Harvard University. Despite that, recent studies show that the number of women majoring in STEM fields, especially computer science, is down from 37% of students in the 1980s, to a shocking 18% today.
While much of the issue is attributed to women being taught that they are not smart enough to be in computer science, no one teaching them about computers, or even facing derision when they show interest, there are still many new programs available that aim to get women up and excited about code, computers, and technology.
In fact, Google is one company supporting the movement, with a recent $50 million donation to the cause.
Girls Who Code – Girls Who Code was launched in 2012, and is the most notable group for women and girls. The program aims to help bridge the gender gap by getting women interested in STEM fields from a young age. Their program includes clubs, immersion programs, classes, and voluntary teachers who visit schools to offer exciting teaching programs to girls.
Made With Code – Made with Code is Google’s new initiative to get girls involved with code, and offers projects like 3D printing design, information, teachers and mentors, and a range of information for women and girls of all ages who want to get involved with STEM fields.
Unfortunately, statistics say that the main reason many women do not get involved in computer science degrees, which lead to the highest paying jobs in Amerca, is because they do not have the confidence that they are able to graduate or stick to a ‘boring computer science’ job. But the women who do go into those degrees list them as exciting, challenging, interesting, and anything but boring.
With more free initiatives available, and hopefully more encouragement from parents and teachers, more women will get involved with computer projects.
If you have a daughter and you want her to get into STEM, or to see if she’s interested the following include a few fun project ideas and resources you can use to get started:
Arduino Beginners Kit
Hopscotch Coding App for iPad
and dozens of different science and STEM apps available in both Android and Apple app stores.