Staff Editorial: Why We Need More Women in STEM

Cultivating environments that are more inclusive and diverse can combat the underrepresentation of females in industries related to science, technology, engineering, and math

Gabby Delpleash, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

Can you name a famous woman leader in tech? Alexa and Siri don’t count. 

When asked this question in a 2018 survey, nearly 92% of respondents said they couldn’t name one. Of the 8% who claimed they could, only about 4% actually did; and about a quarter of them named Siri and Alexa instead of real women. 

In our own district, the male to female ratio regarding STEM-invested students is 719 males to 578 females; monumentally closer to an equal 50-50 as opposed to the global ratio of STEM-invested males to females where only 27% of females hold STEM related jobs, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

While the district’s new Cedar Trail Exploration Center building, CTEC, encourages females to take on leadership positions in STEM, women are globally underrepresented on all rungs of leadership in the field. According to a survey of women in STEM careers, 91% said gender discrimination remains a career obstacle and 100% reported self doubt and lack of confidence as an obstacle. These findings are not surprising as research shows that women researchers typically earn less, receive less funding at the crucial start of their careers and are cited less often than their male counterparts.

It is clear that in all facets of STEM, we need to create environments that are more inclusive. The recent implementation of the CTEC building serves as a viable catalyst for closing the gender gap in STEM locally, however more actions need to be taken to close the STEM gap worldwide.

Paths to further encourage young women to enter into the STEM field can include the implementation of methods such as implicit bias training, balanced and diversified decision-making committees and the primary school institution of policies and ad programs that aim to support women in STEM careers.

The research makes it clear: we need to change the STEM culture. Science benefits from diversity. Data suggests that gender diversity serves the potential to broaden the viewpoints, questions and areas explored by researchers, allowing greater potential for new discoveries. Without women and other underrepresented groups in science, the world may miss out on valuable innovations. By raising awareness for the active disruption of gender norms in this evolutionary field, we take one step toward increasing female representation in the STEM society.

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