Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are vital to both everyday life and to the further development of society. But while women make up 50% of the world’s population, they occupy less than half of jobs in the STEM industries.
The women in STEM is about giving women a chance to shape your present and your future, and to have an equal say in society. Below I’ve covered the importance of the women in STEM movement in more detail and explained how you can get involved in it.
Science Technology Engineering Mathematics, Equality…
STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) started in 2001 after The National Science Foundation changed term used for grouping these disciplines together from its previous acronym, SMET (Science Mathematics Engineering Technology).
The idea of STEM is to encourage more students to take up a subject within one of the four disciplines, along with promoting a wider appreciation within national curriculums across the globe.
The women in STEM movement is about making sure women are represented in these four disciplines. Because while Science Technology Engineering Mathematics should be based on talent not gender, women in STEM are underrepresented and underpaid compared to their male counterparts.
Women are underrepresented and underpaid
There are some stark statistics which show the divide between men and women in STEM, both in terms of their salaries and the number of women occupying roles within the traditional STEM disciplines:
- Women hold just 28.8% of jobs in research and development (R&D)
- 53% of women who start roles in STEM leave to work in other industries. This is compared to just 31% of men who join,then leave the STEM industry
- Women in the science, computing, and engineering industries earn 79.2% of a man’s salary
- 12.4% is the percentage of women board members in companies in the information technology (IT) industry
Studies have even shown that the greater the gender equality of a country, the less likely women in that nation are to work in the STEM industries. It’s been claimed that this is because STEM roles offer the quickest path to financial freedom in less equal countries, but that women face huge societal and psychological barriers when joining STEM industries in developed countries.
Women need an equal say in everything
The women in STEM movement matters because women are not being given an equal say in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Often, the voice that women do have in these areas is not given the same gravitats and value as men’s voices.
STEM has an enormous impact on our lives. Science gives us a wider understanding of the world and beyond. Technology helps us to advance as a society. Engineering is the structural foundation of the our cities and transport. Mathematics influences everything.
Women need to be able to have their say. In order for this to happen, the balance between men and women must be redressed and the gap in both representation and salary closed.
Individuals and organizations promoting women in STEM
There are an enormous number of groups and people who are doing great work in promoting the women in STEM movement, both through leading by example and deliberately bringing the message to a wider audience.
An Iranian mathematician and a professor of mathematics at Stanford University, Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman to be awarded the fields medal when she received it in 2014. She won the greatest honor in mathematics for “her outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces.”
This organization began in 2012 with mission to connect the public together with women who work in STEM. STEM Women has four aims:
- To increase the visibility of women in STEM
- To promote STEM careers for women
- To raise gender equality
- To give women greater participation, inclusion, leadership and recognition within STEM.
Founded in 2010, STEMinist is focused on developing the women in STEM movement and has four goals:
- Improve the visibility of women in STEM
- Promote and increase the view of women in STEM industries
- Help girls and young women to forge a career in STEM
- Use social media to show the achievements of women in STEM.
She’s the University of Oulu’s Associate Professor of Nanoparticle Physics and Surface Chemistry. B.Sc. in theoretical physics, and Nønne Prisle has given this advice to female scientists: “Believe in yourself and believe that what you do matters for science and for society… Be open and outspoken about the challenges that you face to help others find better ways to support you.”
You can get involved in the women in STEM movement too
While there is much great work that has been done by organizations and individuals, you too can make a valuable contribution to it.
You can join the conversation
(Re)Imagining Women in Stem seeks to exhibit the achievements of women in STEM. If you are a woman who has worked in or has experience of the STEM movement then get in contact, share your story, and join the conversation in changing how women in STEM are depicted.
You can volunteer your skills, time, and enthusiasm
STEM for Her is an organization that champions the cause of women in STEM, helping young women and girls to build a career in one of the four disciplines. It is also run 100% by volunteer efforts. By offering your skills, time, and enthusiasm, you can help the next generation of women in STEM to flourish.
You can donate to women in STEM movement
Scientista Foundation is a volunteer led non-profit that helps to empower women in STEM before they have begun their careers. It helps women by offering content, communities, and conferences. You can donate to Scientista Foundation and help women to have the best chance of working in STEM.
Women now have a much greater influence in the world than ever before. They hold the most powerful office in the Europe, are being given fairer coverage in sports, a, run businesses that contribute $1.7 trillion in revenue to the US economy, and have an enormous social media influence.
But while politicians, sports persons, business people, artists, and social media influencers are enormously important in the 21st century, science, technology, mathematics, and engineering are vital to our lives now— and long into the future. Women need to see their voices being heard and their skills being valued in these disciplines. That’s why the women in STEM movement matters so much.