It’s the 21st century and some commentators and power brokers might have you believe the battle for gender parity has been won, and that women should now consider themselves equal. Sadly, there remains much work to be done.
STEM covers the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and though more women now hold positions within the STEM industry, inequality remains systemic.
Below we’ve looked at the figures that show women are still not represented equally in the STEM world, along with giving examples of ladies whose success proves there’s no reason whatsoever that there should be a gender disparity in STEM roles.
STEM is overpopulated by men
STEM began in 2001, when The National Science Foundation settled on the acronym as the term to group together the academic disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — previously it was known as SMET.
However, despite the feminist revolution of the 1970s helping to level the opportunities available to men and women, the STEM industry remains dominated by the male gender. Just check out these statistics for proof:
- Women make up just 35% of the professional scientific and technical industry
- Only 24% of Core STEM occupations are held by women
- Men hold 89% of jobs in the engineering industry
- 83% of jobs in the IT industry are occupied by men
- Women account for just 24% of total STEM employment
When are those figures from? 2017. STEM remains over-populated by men, despite women having always thrived in the industry and continuing to do so, as you’ll see below.
History shows women excel in STEM
Women aren’t underpaid and lacking in representation because of a shortage of talent. Just see what fantastic work has already been done by women in STEM:
Science – Lise Meitner
Lise was an Austrian-Swedish physicist who helped to revolutionise radioactivity and nuclear physics. Alongside Otto Hahn, Lise headed up the team of scientists responsible for discovering nuclear fission of uranium upon absorbing an extra neutron.
Technology – Jean E. Sammet Roebling
Without Jean the IT world would be very different: she developed the FORMAC (FORmula MAnipulation Compiler) programming language, and was one of the key authors behind COBOL (common business-oriented language). Without her, your computer might be saying something quite different.
Engineering – Emily Roebling
You’ve heard of the Brooklyn Bridge. Well, without Emily’s skill there may have been no bridge. She was Chief Engineer on the project, one of most impressive examples of nineteenth-century engineering.
Mathematics – Ada Lovelace
The world’s first computer programmer was a groundbreaking mathematician, who died over 100 years before Bill Gates was born. The thoughts that she made on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine directly influenced the first algorithm to be tailored for use on a computer.
History has inspired the future, as you’ll see from these modern examples of women in STEM:
Science – Bilge Demirkoz
During her formative years, one of Bilge Demirkoz’s teachers told her parents that she was “very good at physics for a girl”. With her work in particle physics at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), Bilge has proved science cares not for gender, only talent.
Technology – Rashmi Sinha
You probably know Rashmi’s work already, and if you don’t, then at least one of your work colleagues does. Rashmi invented the presentation sharing hosting service SlideShare, a website that has 80 million monthly visitors and 38 million registered users.
Among the many, the companies to use the technology developed by Rashmi are The White House, NASA, IBM. O’Reilly Media, Hewlett Packard, and the World Economic Forum.
Engineering – Lorna Brown
Lorna Brown is a senior conformance engineer for Network Certification Body (NCB), a UK-based company specializing in railway safety and assurance. A member of the Chartered Association of Building Engineers, Lorna’s work has seen her recognized as an inspiration for women hoping to forge a career in a field where only 20% of undergraduates are female.
Mathematics – Maryam Mirzakhani
There’s so much that can be said about Maryam Mirzakhani, but we’re going to focus on just one detail: in 2014 she was awarded the Fields Medal (the highest honor a mathematician can receive) for her “her outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces”. To date, Maryam remains the only woman to receive a Fields Medal.
Gender inequality has been a feature of society throughout the history of civilisation. Women have the talent and skill to match their male counterparts in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, which means there is no justification for the gender disparity seen in these industries.
If you want to learn more about women in STEM, check out the fantastic video below to find out about the fantastic work being done by women the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.