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Do Now

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?

Introduction

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that although women make up around 50% of the workforce, they only comprise 26% of the employees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields. There is a significant gender gap between men and women in the sciences; research conducted in the UK between 1997 and 2010 revealed that women, on average, received 43 percent less funding in scientific grants than men. A study conducted in 2008 showed that the median salary for a female engineer was $24,000 less than the median salary of their male counterpart. These differences extend beyond mere wage discrimination.

When young girls look at careers in STEM fields and see a dearth of female role models compared to men in these jobs, girls may feel that a science career is simply not for them. In science, there may exist a “stereotype threat,” which states that when we are aware of a bias we are more likely to conform to it. Another possible barrier is the exclusivity within STEM industries themselves; women are underrepresented at conferences, start-up companies, and scientific advisory boards. However there are some studies that show boys seemingly falling behind their female counterparts recently, and that women are currently receiving more college degrees than men. Certain solutions to reduce the gender gap in the sciences–such as the imposition of quotas and special funding programs for women–are criticized for promoting reverse sexism.

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?

Resource

CBS video Women, Minorities Underrepresented in STEM Fields
U.S. News & World Report chief content officer Brian Kelly and Weill Cornell Medical College dean Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher discuss the underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM fields.


To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowSexism

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.

We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets. You can visit our video tutorials that showcase how to use several web-based production tools. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.


More Resources

Nature interactive Science’s Gender Gap
View a visual and interactive graphic of the gender breakdown in science and engineering, along with financial statistics for women and men employed in those fields.

Indiana University interactives Global Gender Disparities in Science
View maps and interactives that show the relationship between gender and the publishing of, and collaboration on, research papers and articles.


KQED Do Now Science is a monthly activity in collaboration with California Academy of Sciences. The Science Do Now is posted every second Tuesday of the month.

This post was contributed by youth from the Spotlight team within The California Academy of Sciences’ Careers in Science Intern Program. CiS is a multi-year, year-round work-based youth development program for young people from groups typically under-represented in the sciences.


Sexism in Science? 8 March,2017California Academy of Sciences

Author

California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a leading scientific and cultural institution based in San Francisco. It is home to an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and research and education programs, which engage people of all ages and backgrounds on two of the most important topics of our time: life and its sustainability. Founded in 1853, the Academy’s mission is to explore, explain and sustain life. Visit www.calacademy.org for more information.

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