We are well aware that there is a significant gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and an ever larger gap for minority women in these fields. The lack of women in STEM means we are missing out on half the population’s skills, perspectives and brain power.
Why are there so few women in STEM?
- STEM is traditionally viewed as a male dominated and masculine field and young girls feel like they don’t belong. Two exceptions are the fields of social sciences and biology.
- STEM subjects are perceived to be intimidating or too complex to understand, deterring some girls to choose such careers.
- Young girls of all races need to have a mental image of their future, but don’t see many female role models, and especially minority women role models, in STEM.
- There is a lack of support for women once they get past their education training and into a career from academia, industry and the male community.
Ideas on bridging the gender gap
- Leveraging the interest of young girls that are already on the STEM career path
- Discussing women STEM leaders in history and in today’s world including minority women
- Early STEM education starting at preschool to remove gender biases
- Demonstrating the real-world problem solving applications of STEM, similar to how the fields of biology or social sciences does
- Provide mentor programs that follow and support throughout their career pipeline
- Giving girls of all backgrounds a platform to show their STEM and innovation skills
- More support from industry and male community recognizing this is a problem and wanting to help
- Train educators to encourage STEM interests
- Show how STEM learning can be social, fun and not intimidating
As women leaders in our robotics company, Deepti and Aditi have started a social initiative called @IndianGirlsCode, to get more girls interested in and excited about STEM. @IndianGirlsCode is a free program that inspires young women to innovate in the fields of computer science and technology by creating real-world applications to real-world problems and provides coding and robotics education to girls with a focus on the underprivileged in rural areas.