According to a recent report from the White House Council on Women and Girls, women earn less than half of all bachelor’s degrees in math and physical sciences, and less than 20% of all bachelor’s degrees in engineering and computer science. In fact, the number of women pursuing degrees in computer science has declined over the last 20 years. According to the National Science Foundation, women only make up about 25% of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workforce.
Are any of you actually surprised by these statistics? I know I wasn’t. I’ve been hearing about the gender imbalance in science, math, and technology-related fields since I was in third grade, and at college, I only met a few women studying engineering or computer science. I’ve known for years that fewer women than men pursue STEM careers. What I didn’t hear was why this gap is something to be concerned about.
But consider these facts, which seem to make it clear that there are several reasons it is beneficial to have women in STEM fields:
Thankfully, research shows that there are many ways to help girls develop a lasting interest in careers in STEM fields—and that’s where organizations like Girls Inc. come in. Girls Inc. programs such as Girls Inc. Operation SMART and Lunch Bunch have helped many girls develop an interest in STEM. Here’s what a few of them had to say, after participating in a Girls Inc. program:
“Now I know how to prepare to be a surgeon.”—Sneha
“I want to be a vet!”—Kiah
“I made a lot of friends and learned about science and nature and how to keep the earth clean. I want to be a biologist, and I want to do a lot for the earth.”—Tay’sha
“I want to be an electrical engineer because I like working with my hands and fixing things.”—Liza
“I especially liked it when we made wind turbines!”—Natalie
What do you think about the gender imbalance in STEM fields? What do you think adults can do to help girls develop a lasting interest in things like science, technology, engineering, and math?