Women represent half of the population, although according to a UNESCO study, they represent only 28% of scientific researchers worldwide.
STEM fields allow us to lessen the impact of climate change, reduce global health epidemics, and could reduce income inequality. To prosper peacefully and with an inclusive perspective, we need to encourage the study of STEM careers and at the same time provide opportunities regardless of gender.
Women represent half of the population, although according to a UNESCO study, they represent only 28% of scientific researchers worldwide. A recent Microsoft research exposes why girls and young women lose interest in the STEM disciplines and proposes measures to encourage them.
- Women lose interest in STEM careers as they grow up; For example, 31% of middle school girls surveyed are attracted to coding, but by the time they are in college the percentage drops to almost 20%.
- The study revealed that 91% of girls and 80% of young women describe themselves as creative. In this regard, the majority of girls surveyed assume that the STEM field does not encourage creativity; only 20% think that the work of a mathematician is creative.
- 75% of the girls who participate in clubs and activities related to STEM areas understand the types of jobs they could do in the future. Also, they express that they are likely to study computer science in high school.
- More than 50% of girls and young women feel powerful doing activities related to STEM. 64% of women who work in science or engineering feel that their work makes a difference, 7 points higher than women in other fields.
- More than half of girls in middle school say that they are often encouraged by their mothers and teachers. 66% of the girls encouraged by their teacher indicate that they are likely to study computer science, compared to 40% who have not been encouraged.
How to attract women to STEM careers?
- STEM careers need female role models; The study showed that girls who know a woman in a STEM profession are more likely to feel empowered when they participate in activities in that field of study.
- Supporting STEM extracurricular activities.
- Providing practical experiences and examples from the real world.
- Emphasizing the creative aspects of engineering and computer science.
- Demonstrating the impact of STEM jobs in the world.
- Encouraging parents, teachers and other influencers in the life of a girl to support and foster interest in this field of study.
- Supporting teachers to develop strategies to involve girls who are afraid to ask questions or who need vocational help related to STEM careers.
Authorities, educators, non-profit organizations, parents and communities need to support young women to pursue STEM careers. Likewise, girls need to be listened to and encouraged to pursue their goals and desires.
If you want to read more about women in STEM, we suggest our interview with Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College, who talks about role of women in STEM careers.