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Leveling the STEM Playing Field

This blog was exclusively written for by: Jarrah Bulton

STEM Education Today

Why is there a lack of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers? A graph shared by The Atlantic shows that only 25% of STEM graduates in the United States are women. Educators are working to address this issue and encourage more females to pursue these careers.

Women Among STEM Graduates

A scatterplot of countries based on their number of female STEM graduates and their Global Gender Gap Index (y-axis), a measure of opportunities for women (Psychological Science)

Throughout history women have excelled in various fields of science. Some of the biggest names in STEM are women. From Marie Curie’s discovery of radioactivity to Esther Takeuchi’s achievements in reengineering batteries, women’s contributions in STEM fields have improved the way people live today. However, this history of women in STEM has often not gotten the attention it warrants in educational materials. This is starting to change.

California now has a law that requires textbooks and materials to recognize the full range of diversity among the ranks of scientists who have influenced the many different fields of science. In a recent project for the state of California, Victory developed short biographies of prominent scientists, including women, members of the LGBTQ community, and those who had physical disabilities. The biographies allow more students to see themselves reflected in textbooks and, it is hoped, to be inspired to pursue careers in science or technology. This recognition is important because it breeds a culture of active learning, student empowerment, and equal job offerings all over the world.

Another barrier that has kept women out of STEM fields is the belief that women don’t have the intellectual capacity to work in STEM. There are no current studies, however, that can demonstrate that male and female brains function differently. This essentially eliminates gender difference as a reason to discourage women from pursuing careers in STEM. The case then lies in our educational systems and how they present topics to their students.
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