Why the World Needs More Women in STEM - Geneva College
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January 28, 2016

Why the World Needs More Women in STEM

Devoted parents to two very intelligent and savvy teenage girls, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are passionate about breaking down barriers to attracting girls and retaining women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Fostering a diverse scientific community strengthens the United States both domestically and internationally, while the trickle-down benefit has broad implications for our society.

Did you know that according to The Office of Science and Technology Policy:

  • Although women make up almost half of the total US workforce, they hold only one-quarter of all jobs in STEM fields.
  • Women represent over half of students on US college campuses and are the majority in certain STEM bachelor’s degree programs, including the biological sciences.
  • Women earn fewer than one in four engineering and computer science degrees.
  • Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM occupations.
  • Although women with STEM jobs do experience a smaller wage gap relative to men, an AAUW analysis found that women in computer occupations were paid 87 percent of what their male counterparts were paid, and women with engineering positions received 82 percent of what their male counterparts made.

For these reasons, The Office of Science and Technology Policy has partnered with the White House Council on Women and Girls to open more doors and increase the participation of women and girls in STEM fields. One important initiative, named Equal Futures Partnership, aims to increase high-quality education and high-paying career opportunities for women and girls in STEM disciplines by:

  • Collecting better data
  • Expanding mentoring opportunities
  • Encouraging research-driven teaching practices
  • Increasing access to online STEM-skill training

Why we need more women in STEM fields

Because on average STEM careers offer women higher earning potential and more job stability than non-STEM careers, increasing opportunities for women in these fields means greater economic success and equality for women as a whole. This economic prosperity benefits the women’s families and children, and has a positive effect on the financial health of the communities in which they live and spend their earnings.

Dynamic careers in STEM fields offer women the opportunity to participate in breakthrough discoveries and technological innovation. These fields need the unique and fundamentally different perspectives that women bring. A 2014 article on women in STEM published on Inc.com highlights the costs and dangers of underrepresentation of women in the sciences:

Until very recently, the male-dominated field of cardiology did not recognize the now-known fact that heart disease in women manifests very differently from men's. Symptoms of a heart attack are different, and more women than men die of heart disease. Women and their physicians are slower to recognize the presence of heart attacks because chest pain and EKG changes are less frequently present.

Drug development testing has traditionally been performed on men who have very different dosing requirements from women. Even though drugs are metabolized differently, they have usually been prescribed to both genders in the same amounts. Unfortunate examples of how dangerous this is include an antihistamine that caused severe heart arrhythmias and women who drove with the sleeping pill Ambien still in their systems the next morning.

As more female scientists and medical researchers who study medical issues that impact fellow women come on board, the complex biological and metabolic differences between men and women will be better recognized and safety will improve. Attracting more women to careers in science and math empowers them and also allows society to benefit from their full potential.

Geneva College actively attracts women to its STEM majors, such as engineering, biology, environmental science, chemistry, and applied mathematics. At Geneva, women play a vital role in academics and academic-related clubs, internships and programs that further the STEM professions.



https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/10/10/equal-futures-opening-doors-high-quality-education-and-career-opportunities-women-an, http://www.inc.com/sue-williams/why-we-need-women-in-stem.html, http://www.womensheart.org/content/heartdisease/heart_disease_facts.asp