The Importance of Gender Equality in STEM Fields

Equality or non-discrimination is a state where every individual gets equal opportunities and rights. Every individual of society yearns for equal status, opportunity, and rights. However, it is a general observation that a lot of discrimination among humans. Discrimination exists due to cultural differences, geographical differences, and gender. Inequality based on gender is a concern that is prevalent in the entire world. Even in the 21st century, across the globe men and women do not enjoy equal privileges. Gender equality means providing equal opportunities to both men and women in political, economic, education, and health aspects.

Women make up only 28% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and men vastly outnumber women majoring in most STEM fields in college. The gender gaps are particularly high in some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future, like computer science and engineering. Although individual women would obviously benefit from the creation of more inclusive atmospheres in STEM fields, these fields as a whole can also benefit by becoming more inclusive.

Science functions best when it considers a wide range of diverse perspectives. When scientific fields exclude women, they exclude a wide range of extremely talented future scientists, as well as fresh perspectives that could be used to approach old scientific problems. In general, research has shown that diverse workplaces are happier and more productive, suggesting that STEM organizations could do better for themselves by being more inclusive.

Root Cause of Gender Inequality in STEM Fields

There are a number of reasons for women’s and girls’ low levels of engagement in STEM:

  • Stereotypes within schools and families of boys being better at science and maths or more likely to succeed in STEM-based jobs;

  • Perceptions that heavily male-dominated STEM careers are not suitable for women; and

  • Continued attitudes in some cultures that investing in education is more important for boys than girls.

These stereotypes have serious consequences. Many of the world’s girls have been shut out from the economic opportunities that our increasingly digitized economies generate. In addition, they have led to algorithms that discriminate against women job-seekers or medical science underestimating differences in women’s and men’s responsiveness to medical treatments.

What Can Be Done to Promote Gender Equality

Here are some thoughts on what we can do to tackle inequality:

  1. We need to break the stereotypes in education

A study among primary school students showed that boys strongly considered that STEM subjects are more suitable for boys than for girls. Highlighting stereotypical gender roles, also, another study illustrated that first-year university students expressed negative stereotypical beliefs of women’s engineering and mathematical abilities. According to the study, those beliefs were more endorsed among male students.

Girls and young women need to actively engage in computer-science-related activities right from a young age to provide them with the personal encouragement they need to trust their abilities. These efforts will affect their career choices later in life and provide them the necessary confidence to feel as they are able to pursue a career in STEM.

  1. We need to improve the workplace culture and conditions

It has been proven that some of the main reasons behind women leaving STEM jobs include hostile working environments, lack of career advancement and recognition, the assignment of boring tasks, and pay gaps.

Promoting diversity and constantly improving the workplace conditions, is a systematic effort in which all professionals need to become part of the solution: evaluators, HR recruiters, managers, and C-suite members.

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