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Nonfiction in response to Gender Equality
May 2018
By Amrita Bhasin
CC Image Courtesy of Digital Media Academy

What does STEM stand for? The answer is science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A new initiative, steam, aims to use art and design in STEM education as well. 


Unfortunately, there is a clear lack of representation for women like us in these fields. Whatever the reasons are (stereotypes, bias, lack of encouragement), I believe that women can be the face of science and innovation. 


I’ll tell you why it’s important for girls to go into STEM. We all know about the wage gap between women and men. Currently, women make on average 80 cents for every 1 dollar that men earn. In some states, it is even worse. For example, in Wyoming, women are only paid 64% of what men earn. Unfortunately, more and more studies are starting to show that America, although a developed, productive and powerful nation, unfortunately, has one of the worst gender gaps in the world.


What many don’t realize is that a shortage of women going into stem will only continue to increase the wage gap. According to Time Magazine, STEM graduates are projected to have the highest pay than any other major. With a large increase in companies and influential organizations putting more funding, resources and time into tackling large and complex scientific problems, this means that more high-paying jobs, accomplishments and recognition will go to men. 


Obviously, this contributes to less female role models in STEM fields. STEM is becoming more essential around the world, and there is a concern that an absence of female figures in these significant fields will only further the false notion/stereotype that women are not capable or cut out to do high-paying and high-thinking work. 


So, why don’t more girls go into STEM? Sadly, not every school encourages girls to get involved in these fields or consider them as career options, so you might have to find the encouragement elsewhere. You may think women haven’t been successful in these lines of work because society doesn’t always acknowledge or highlight them. The recent and acclaimed movie, Hidden Figures, told the true and untold story of three African-American women and their influential role with NASA in orbiting the moon. Ada Lovelace was a British mathematician and the world’s first computer programmer. Check out this link for more about women throughout history involved in science and technology.


Today, there are women aiming to close the gender gap. Chelsea Clinton tours America and organizes events to encourage girls to go into STEM. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, started the Lean In project to connect girls and women passionate about STEM. Marissa Mayer, the former president and CEO of Yahoo, is an inspiring female executive from a STEM background. You may have to look closer for female role models, but they are there. 


If you’re interested in STEM, join a club or enter a contest. The Google Science Fair, Intel Science Talent Search and Imagine Cup are 3 STEM-related contests. Your school might even have a science or math club that you could join. The National Girls Collaborative Project attempts to enhance STEM education for girls.


So, consider STEM. We still need females in liberal arts, humanities and all those other fields, but it’s high time that more girls feel encouraged to pursue science and technology. It is unfortunate that we may dismiss going into STEM because we don’t see role models around us, but a lot of organizations and people are working today to change that. And with more representation for women in STEM, maybe we as a society can finally close the gender gap.

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