Women have made great strides in fighting for equality in America, but are there factors that still hold women back in certain areas like science? In our #DoNowSexism post, we asked students, What do you have to say about the reasons and realities of sexism in science? What are the barriers, if any, to women in STEM careers?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, women make up 50% of the workforce, yet only 26% of women work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields. A 2008 study in the UK revealed female engineers were paid on average around $24,000 less than their male co-workers. Many argue this gap between men and women in science is caused by a lack of female role models, the threat of stereotypical gender roles and the exclusive nature of the field where women are often underrepresented at conferences and scientific advisory boards. One solution some have proposed is to create special funding programs for women.
For the past few weeks, students expressed concern over how sexism still exists today. Many students discussed a wide variety of barriers that inhibit women from pursuing science like traditional gender roles and even a lack of interest all together. The majority of students, however, argued that the way society perceives women in the workforce holds them back from
Why is this still happening?
A few students discussed in general their concern about how sexism still exists today.
— evelyn jimenez (@16Evelyn1) May 16, 2014
— Vanessa Nila (@VanessaNila) May 29, 2014
What are the barriers?
Students questioned what factors contribute to sexism in STEM.
— Kirsten Lee (@kirstencorrolee) May 14, 2014
— Lin Tian (@LinTian4) May 23, 2014
— Itza (@BonillaItza) May 16, 2014
Students investigated deeper and discussed how lower wages may discourage women from working in STEM fields.
— leonor juarez (@leonor_16) May 16, 2014
— Chi Mai (@ChiMai269) May 29, 2014
Traditional gender roles
Many argued the way women are perceived in society inhibits them from working in STEM.
— Stephanie Phung (@stephanie_phung) May 29, 2014
— Brittany Deweaver (@BrittanyD2016) May 15, 2014
@twoesel exactly which is stereotypical & woman should speak out
— Naquasia Davis (@NaquasiaWHKE) May 20, 2014
Lack of interest
Some also pointed to how not every girl will be interested in science.
— Antorius nor fleet (@nantorius) May 29, 2014
— Maurilio Lopez (@LopezMaurilio) May 30, 2014
It’s not just science
Others pointed to how science is not the only field where sexism still exists.
— Telesia Hunkin (@sialater7) May 14, 2014
— Catherine (@catherine_beee) May 15, 2014
What can we do?
Students proposed different solutions to close the gender gap in STEM fields.
@KQEDedspace I don't think there should be special fund programs cause that gives women more advantage. It comes down to the CEO#DoNowSexism
— Reid Gibbs (@AldwayneJohnson) May 16, 2014
— Rebecca S-F (@jewishkid2k14) May 16, 2014
— Benjamin Anderson (@Banderson579) May 16, 2014