On average, only three out of every 25 engineers are women. Why?
Women’s underrepresentation in STEM careers is proven, but the cause is more difficult to isolate. Part of it is marketing, but females in STEM professions are also disproportionately underrepresented in media. And, women are more inclined to underestimate their professional abilities and competence.
Education is Crucial
Between the ages of 8 and 14, girls’ self-confidence plummets by as much as 30%. Girls’ interest in STEM careers drops at the same time, peaking in middle school and reaching its lowest point during high school years.
Sparking girls’ interest in STEM subjects at this pivotal time by showing the creativity, problem-solving, and human-centered aspects of STEM can help. It can also preclude girls from losing interest in subjects before they recognize their own potential.
Role Models Matter, Too
Education helps women achieve careers in STEM, but what about when they get there?
Women are 45% more likely than men to leave careers in tech. Mostly because of the culture. STEM fields are male-dominated, and not only are men encouraged to pursue careers in STEM and more likely to be hired than women, they are also more often discouraged from dropping out by parents, mentors, and role models.
Women don’t receive the same support. In fact, the biggest factor affecting a woman’s likelihood to pursue a career in the sciences is having someone who encourages her to not give up. A lack of role models is another.
Introducing Girls Inspired
Girls are often discouraged from entering many traditionally male-dominated fields. In addition, a lack of female role models prevents them from thinking and believing, “I can do that.”
Olivia and Lucy, our summer interns, set out to prove that increasing exposure to successful women across industries where they are underrepresented and often discouraged will help girls find the encouragement they need when their self-esteem is most vulnerable.
They recruited eight successful women to answer questions from four girls about role models, inspiration, perseverance, and more. The resulting video series, Girls Inspired: You Can Be What You Can’t See, was released on October 11 in honor of International Day of the Girl Child.
Berger, Rod. “STEM Education: New Research Sheds Light On Filling The STEM Gap For Girls,” Forbes.com. March 31, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rodberger/2018/03/31/stem-education-new-research-sheds-light-on-filling-the-stem-gap-for-girls/#51cf8da81cf9
Kay, Katty and Claire Shipman. “The Confidence Gap,” The Atlantic.com. May, 2014. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/05/the-confidence-gap/359815/
Pollack, Eileen. “Why are There Still So Few Women in Science?” NYTimes.com. October 3, 2013. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/magazine/why-are-there-still-so-few-women-in-science.html
“Women in STEM,” The Lyda Hill Foundation & the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. https://seejane.org/wp-content/uploads/portray-her-infographic.pdf