The glass ceiling is an invisible, but real barrier in many industries and especially in STEM related fields. While more and more women are entering science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields, they still only make up a little over a fourth of the workforce.
According to the National Girls Collaborative, only 11% of physicists and astronomers are women while 17% of the civil, architectural, and sanitary engineers are female. Female chemists make up 35% of the field. The most notable gap in the gender workforce is in the computer and high tech industries. According to Catalyst
.org whose mission it is to accelerate growth for women in the workplace, women make up only one-fifth of the job force in that industry. Also concerning, the women who do work in these fields make 20% less on average in the same role as men. But as a whole, women who work in STEM industries receive a much higher wage than working in other areas.
What does it all mean for Girls in Science?
It means that a growth mindset needs to be embraced by all parties: parents of girls, educators, employers and industries. More women in the STEM workforce allows companies and industries to develop in ways that don’t just help 50% of the population and increases their relevance to a much larger market.
In a ForbesWoman article, Moira Forbes asks female professionals prolific in their STEM fields of biomolecular and computer engineering, how to narrow the gap. Solutions include educating girls that they don’t have to be Einstein mathematically in order to be successful in a number of STEM fields; likewise, they suggested inspiring and fostering curiosity (in other words, let your daughter take apart that old cracked iPhone). Brittany Kendrick who has a Master’s of Science in Urban Infrastructure Systems, shared that societal paradigms need to change. “As a Black Woman, a Civil Engineer, bred by the public schools on the southside of Chicago, it is my personal mission to resist the social, economic, and political structures that are in place to discourage my ability and pursuit.” Other girls deserve the same, and so advocacy and enlightenment need to continue.
Kids will seldom see themselves in careers and fields where they don’t see themselves represented (whether it be gender or race). The more exposure girls can get to see women in STEM industries will help ignite girls interest and plant the seeds they need to see themselves growing in STEM industries. Likewise, a girl won’t know her options until she is exposed to them. The more activities, camps, events where girls can get messy and explore the varied degrees and career opportunities in STEM, the better!