There is an evident underrepresentation of women in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Only 28% of the workforce of STEM are women worldwide. Likewise, women are also outnumbered by men in colleges and universities.
To exhibit gender gap in STEM, the health care sector is a decent example. Women employees make up 80% of the sector but only 21% are high executives or board members. Also, only one third of women are doctors. This means, the majority of the women are in the low paid positions. Another factor is payment, research shows that men are paid $15 000 higher than women per year. These numerous circumstances all result in excluding women in the areas of STEM.
As stated above, the gender gap in STEM areas is extreme. One of the many reasons is all the barriers women have to face to participate in the STEM society. Some of these barriers are sexual harassment, limited role models, preconceived stereotypes, the gender bias in reviews and credits, less mentoring and less funding. The main barrier is the disadvantage given to girls from birth. This is where parents or guardians buy barbies and pink, glittery dolls for girls while boys typically receive Legos, cars or building sets which develops spatial and construction skills. This not only reduces girls’ technical skills but also lessens their interests in STEM. This is because little girls are exposed to perfect looking dolls with makeup and pretty hair from the day they can walk. These are their role models. All these barriers and disadvantages greatly exacerbate the gender gap in STEM.
There is a notable disadvantage for women in STEM, but why does it need to be resolved? Fixing the gender gap is beneficial for the entire society not only women. It is already proven that a diverse team performs better. This is because a variety of different people allows several perspectives and different interpretations of the same problem or idea. Also, women’s point of view is highly required as 50% of the world’s population is women. At the present, several inventions exclude women. For example, car safety is vital for both women and men, yet women have a 47% higher risk of landing a serious injury in a car crash. This is because of the practice dummies used to test car safety, the dummies were all designed with a male body structure.
Considering the fact that the gender gap must be fixed, how do we fix it? There are many new innovative STEM related toys suitable and enjoyable for little girls. As the exposure of STEM is greatly important, these toys should be adapted to provide for girls as well. Whether it be schools, kindergartens or daycares providing these toys. Girls then face a lot of stereotypes, this must be directly addressed to gradually limit these ‘ideals’ both at home and schools. This would mean raising awareness and leading by example. Another concept that is proved to have worked is the method of removing gender and race from evaluation forms. This would mean that the evaluator judges all the forms the same way. This seems like a lot and it is, but this is not impossible. Countries such as Lithuania, Norway and Denmark have made great progress in closing this gender gap. With all these solutions, the gender gap is guaranteed to reduce significantly.
To conclude, the gender gap in STEM is an important aspect of life which needs to and can be fixed.