August 22, 2019

How Society Discourages Young Girls from Math & Science

“Unless you have lived under a rock with no Internet or mobile data connection, you know science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are vital career pathways of the future. However, STEM is often not the chosen pathway for minorities and girls. In a previous Forbes essay, I documented that many minorities avoid science because of cultural perceptions about what is considered a “successful” career, limited mentors, lack of exposure to the “fun” of science, and stereotypes. Dr. Nicole Joseph is an Assistant Professor of mathematics and science education at Vanderbilt University. She recently delivered a thought-provoking lecture at the University of Georgia-hosted workshop called “Navigating STEM.” Her lecture inspired me to explore five reasons girls avoid entry into STEM-related fields.

Before diving as deeply as 1400 words will allow, let’s document the problem. According to the National Science Board and the National Science Foundation (NSF) website:

The percentage of female science and engineering (S&E) workers continues to be lowest in engineering, where women constituted 15% of the workforce in 2015….Other disproportionately male S&E occupations include physical scientists (28% women) and computer and mathematical scientists (26% women). Within computer and mathematical sciences occupations, the largest component, computer and information scientists, has a smaller proportion of women (24%) compared with the mathematical scientists component, which is closer to parity (43% women).”

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