The female lead in Fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

The female lead in Fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

Oh, being a girl and studying engineering must be tough for you?
No, actually, changing the mentality that a girl cannot study engineering is tough for me!

According to the data taken in 2021, 49.6% of the total population of the world is females. But have you ever wondered what per cent of the females in the world are working in the fields of STEM? The statistics taken to date tell a lot about women involved in the STEM field. The paragraphs following confront a few of those.

STEM stands for  Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It’s important as it teaches critical thinking abilities and instils a passion for innovation and exploration that fuel success across a variety of tasks and disciplines. According to the research, 83% of boys in high school opt for STEM subjects, while only 64% of girls opt for STEM subjects. 13% of the surveyed male university students were taking engineering courses, compared to just 2% of female university students. The data makes it absolutely clear that more of the male population of the world is involved in the STEM field.

Women are more inclined towards other fields rather than the fields related to STEM. In 2015, women received more than half of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in the biological sciences, but far less in computer sciences (18%), engineering (20%), physical sciences (39%) and mathematics (43%), according to the National Girls Collaborative Project. Talking about Nepal, women represent only between 5% and 10% of the total population enrolled in IT.

There definitely must be some reasons for women being more inclined towards fields other than STEM. The stereotype that persists in society that women are not meant to be in the STEM field has somewhere created this huge gender gap in STEM. Most females keep themselves aloof from these fields as they think they could handle their work-family-life balance better in other streams like humanities. Some females also did not show much interest in STEM subjects while the others found no women role models in tech. The gender bias that females experience in the workspaces has also increased the number of women who quit technical jobs. The misconception (which still exists) that women are not efficient enough to build a career in the STEM field has made a huge impact on the graph representing women in tech. ‘No man is born learned’. People must keep this in consideration before symbolizing women as ‘inefficient’.

Organizations and communities have sprung like mushrooms to help women understand their potential and cope with unnecessary comments that come to their ears and pull them off the track of success. Listing down some of the national and international organizations that have made commendable changes and have empowered women.

1.  Girls in Tech

2.  Anita Borg Institute

3.  Black Girls Code

4.  Girls Who Code

5.  Smart Cheli

6.  Women Leader in Technology

7.  Women Lead Nepal

8.  Shequal Foundation

Along with these organizations, any individual, be it male or female has a responsibility to help close the gap that exists. Comments like “For a woman, you are skilled at this,” or “You are too beautiful for an engineer” should be stopped and women must be encouraged to work and excel themselves in STEM sectors. The tech industry must be gender friendly rather than a ‘boys’ only club’.The growth of women in the STEM field is remarkable and working on the positive side would help in creating history.

Melina Shakya