20 Sep 2018

PROMOTING PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN AND GIRLS IN SCIENCE

Women have made significant contributions to science from the earliest times and historians with an interest in gender and science have illuminated the scientific endeavors and accomplishments of women, the barriers they have faced, and the strategies implemented to have their work peer-reviewed and accepted in major scientific journals and other publications.

Sciences are defined by those who push past the bounds of human knowledge and break down the thought barriers of their time. Men need to be celebrated as well—whose achievements are recon with and recorded in history books, we celebrate them as geniuses who upended our understanding of the cosmos, the planet and ourselves.

Clearly, women have come a long way from the days when they were not considered fit to do science or were discouraged from pursuing graduate degrees in the discipline. But while they may have earned their place at the laboratory bench, female scientists remain greatly underrepresented in the highest ranks of academia, for instance, a little more than a fourth of the deans in colleges and universities are women, some researchers – men and women alike – believe that equality is simply a matter of time, arguing that the increasing numbers of females going into the pipeline will push more and more of them down the line. But thus far, that theory has not held true.

According to most estimates, men outnumber women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, but in recent years, there have been concerted efforts to both identify why women are less likely than men to study and pursue STEM subjects and to encourage female interest in STEM fields.

Meanwhile, the ranks in science and engineering are still a long way from displaying gender equity and this disparity has implications not only in terms of social justice, but also for the quality of science pursued. Fewer female STEM graduates go on to work in STEM industries, only 6% go on to professorships in the field. Some female STEM graduates struggle to find job opportunities.

Recently, females have made up the majority of students enrolled in schools, but obstacles such as family obligations and gender biases remains an issue to attaining higher positions in academia, causing many women to stumble along the way. In times back, women have been under-represented in the STEM fields, but given the recent efforts made by countries, governments, and educational institutions to rectify the disparities, it seems surprising that women are still so outnumbered in STEM industries.

There are not as many women as men in the scientific profession and in fact Governments around the world should recognize the gender gap in STEM fields and out means to promote participation among female because it no laughing matter, lack of women in STEM fields is a major concern for some countries, where women make up a significant part of the workforce, and their absence in STEM fields indicates a pretty hefty loss of revenue.

According to UIS data, less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women. UIS data also show the extent to which these women work in the public, private or academic sectors, as well as their fields of research. But to truly reduce the gender gap, we must go beyond the hard numbers and identify the qualitative factors that deter women from pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Student women scientists need to believe in themselves and believe that what they do matters for science and for society, strive to create the networks and find the peer support and mentoring that is needed. Be open and outspoken about the challenges that you face to help others find better ways to support you but you also need to be realistic, as not everyone will be able to see things from a new perspective or change their ways. Ultimately, this is your life, and you have to decide what things are worth fighting for and what others are not worth the time or energy.

Mentorship programs are one of the most popular forms of initiatives because many experts believe that women fail to become interested in STEM subjects due to a lack of female role-models in the sector. When organization gives out awards, men are disproportionately represented.

Looking at the bright possibilities, there are indications that the future of women in STEM fields is making waves because while men still significantly outnumber women in engineering and computer sciences, most of the other STEM sectors show growing equality, and in some areas, like biology, women outnumber men and employers want to hire female STEM graduates. Most industries now recognize that diversity is important, and in the STEM sector women represent a much-needed demographic and they perform even better than the men.

Women advocating for women is so essential in all disciplines, female scientists who are incredible sources of support and inspiration, the commitment to improving the system that has led to so many more opportunities for women in science, reminding every woman that in pushing forward she’s creating positive change for the women who will come after her.

Researchers found that when employers considered an equally qualified male and female candidates, the female candidate was selected nearly 70% of the time and companies with female leadership have better investment returns and that diversity in the workplace equals greater employee retention rates.

Young women often second-guess themselves, particularly when faced with conflicting advice from respected mentors, that is why it is important to keep in mind that what is best for your mentors is not always best for you. Trust your gut. It’s easy to doubt your intuition if you continually run into obstacles and obstacles might pop up more for women than for men but willingly taking a step back and being introspective about what you want and need—asking yourself, “What is best for me?”— is critical because if you train yourself to do this, you can become more confident in the path you are taking, in science and in advocating for yourself.

Governments, employers and educational organizations wants to hire women in STEM field and women are not under-represented in every field. In fact, in mathematics, physical sciences, and biosciences, women earn nearly if not more than half of all bachelor’s degrees. Women are significantly outnumbered only in computer sciences and engineering degrees, at the PhD level, women outnumber men in biosciences and more than 50% of all medical scientists are women. These figures seem to indicate that women are interested in STEM fields and do participate in certain areas of the workforce but there’s still lots of room for improvement

To young(er) women entering male-dominated STEM fields the better, there might be more support for you than you may realize, and there are genuinely positive work environments out there. and to the younger female in leadership positions, start the conversation, create a space for everyone, and a culture can bring about improvement.

 

 

Article by Blessing Bassey

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