The world is ever-changing with new technology developed every day. Engineering is at the heart of all these changes – which is why we need more hands-on-deck, specifically women. In this blog we explore the need for more women to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects and encourage them to pursue a career in these fields. We will also look at ways to attract more women to STEM subjects.
Lack of women in STEM
Engineering companies are making the biggest changes in the world. Yet we still live in a society where gender inequality is practiced.
According to the World Economic Forum, women are under-represented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths(STEM). A recent survey revealed that less than a third of female students choose to study higher education subjects like maths and engineering; and the women who do work in STEM fields publish less and often receive less pay. Is this fair?
Women face many challenges every day from gender inequality to stagnation in the workplace. We need to break the bias and gender stereotypes to encourage more women to take up space in STEM.
Why is there a need for women in STEM
If anything, history has shown us that there are plenty women in the world who have excelled in the STEM fields. An article published on International Women’s Day earlier this year, highlighted 13 women in STEM who changed the world. From Katherine Johnson, the amazing mathematician who calculated Apollo 11’s flight to the moon and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work with NASA in 2015 and Radia Perlman (Internet pioneer) to the young Alyssa Carson (first person to complete the NASA passport programme); as well as South Africa’s own Quarraisha Abdool Karim(associate scientific director of CAPRISA). These women have paved the way for others to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Join these women in leaving a legacy and changing the world we live in.
3 Approaches to attract more women to STEM subjects
It’s simple. If we want to encourage more females to join STEM, we got to start encouraging them from a young age; break all stigmas and promote gender diversity.
- Open the way: Demolish biases that stops girls from pursuing a career in science
The first step is to remove preconceived notions of gender in teaching materials. Often learning materials portray men as engineers and scientists and women as teachers or nurses. But any gender could choose to be either. We need to build aspirations from an early age and let people see a variety in representation and in role models.
Reinforcing STEM curricular and linking it to real situations, like using interactive experiences, project-based learning, and other strategies, tends to appeal more to girls than using more traditional methods. Parents and teachers need to show more support to girls wanting to study STEM. Encourage them from a young age – help them grow with support and nourishment. A girl’s natural interest in science should be provided at both home and at school.
- Show your support: Mentorship, skills development, and networking opportunities are key
Exposure to STEM subjects in high school makes a stronger connection, helping more girls to develop poise and interest in the subjects and careers from a young age. Encourage them to create social groups that experiment with STEM subjects in school – this will help them network, share and brainstorm ideas. We need to improve opportunities, provide digital literacy trainings and financial incentives such as scholarships to support the retention and completion of tertiary education.
- Keep women in the workforce by removing obstacles in their pathways
Companies need to create more employment prospects for women in science and improve retention policies. Everyone appreciates a little recognition. Encouraging professional growth is a promising way to retain staff. Offer women in STEM the opportunity to be recognised for their work, put incentives and growth opportunities in place to help them reach their full potential. Upliftment of women in the workplace is warranted.
Plan of action:
Build a career in sustainable energy, healthcare, or transport. You can play a vital role in developing solutions for some of humanity’s greatest challenges like food, medicine, global warming or perhaps reaching far out as creating habitats on other planets or beyond? Or you can learn to design things or change our everyday lives and transform how we live, from through smartphone apps to cutting-edge technological devices.
If you are a woman, who is passionate about STEM subjects and want to make your mark on the world, then science and technology fields could be the career for you. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by. Register to study any of our engineering or technology programmes with Central Technical College – it is the first step to help you cement your career in the Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths fields.