In an era when women are very much prominent in medicine, law, and business, why does the number change when it comes to science and engineering?
Only one in four IT graduates and fewer than one in 10 engineering graduates are women.
Though there is a steady number of women employees in the IT sector, the number decreases drastically when it comes to core industries like manufacturing or telecommunication.
We need a coherent, national effort to overcome the social, cultural, institutional and organizational factors that discourage girls and women from studying STEM, and that limit their opportunities to pursue careers in STEM and entrepreneurship.
Unconscious “not good enough” belief
Many people claim that they do not think that women will be a terrible driver, or will score lower in maths, or will be a wonderful cook, but it’s possible that they still hold that belief at an unconscious level. These implicit biases are even more dangerous because we are not even aware of them. This leads to stereotype threat.
Stereotype threat arises in situations where a negative stereotype is relevant to evaluating performance. A female student taking a math test experiences an extra cognitive and emotional burden of worry related to the stereotype that women are not good at math. A reference to this stereotype, even one as subtle as taking the test in a room of mostly men, can adversely affect her test performance. When the burden is removed, however, her performance will improve. Stereotype threat is one compelling explanation for why women remain underrepresented in STEM fields.
Geek-Stereotype in programming
There are countless scientific studies that claim to identify differences between male and female cognitive aptitudes and, in the UK, far fewer girls choose to study computer science at GCSE level (20% of the total number of students), at degree level (16%) and beyond. Another example of this fact is that Only 20% of Google engineers are women – a statistic that is matched roughly across big tech companies.
Experts state that the “male-geek” stereotype might have been one of the reasons behind such falling numbers. Cultural effects like the brother in the family getting more access to computers or being more attracted towards games also contribute to the nos.
But, the situation is not all bleak...
Remember ISRO's achievement of launching 104 satellites in one go? There are 8 Iron-Women behind the launch, who has made this great feat possible.
Though according to a recent study conducted by Stack Overflow only 5.8 percent of developers worldwide are women, we also have various women technocrats in leading positions in Facebook, Yahoo, and the likes.
But, we need the number to increase, we need more women in STEM. There are a lot of persisting social and institutional challenges and given the barriers, it is difficult being a woman in Science and Technology. Let’s make a pledge on this Women’s Day, that we will try to make it a little less difficult for her...