On March, 8th we commemorate the struggle for gender equality and the emancipation of women worldwide. After a respective initiative has been coined before World War I, the United Nations has declared International Women’s Day a civil awareness day in 1977. Unfortunately, there is still no gender equality today. We have seen many positive developments regarding the right to vote and in other fields, but there is still injustice between the sexes. Women experience discrimination in many parts of the world and there is still a big gender pay gap.
Gender equality has especially failed in terms of education and jobs. The majority of women tend to take “typical women’s jobs” like office clerk, doctor’s assistant or vendor. Although we desperately need women in STEM jobs. These jobs were done by men in the past and in 2017, nothing has changed about that. Only 24% of workers in STEM fields are women. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Reasons for the lack of women in STEM fields
Despite several initiatives worldwide which aim to inspire women to start a career in STEM, the number of female STEM workers is still negligibly small. And there are several reasons for the lack of women in STEM. Experts see a big problem in the stereotypical representation of STEM jobs. Especially engineering jobs are displayed as dirty and loud. Besides, posters, flyers and videos always show men doing these jobs. The majority of women who make their career choice will understandably not be attracted to those occupations. Another reason is that there are in fact several positive role models for young women in STEM jobs, but they are not part of the mainstream media or even play an important role in schoolbooks. While male colleagues like Albert Einstein and Elon Musk are celebrated as icons, many people have never heard of women like Marie Curry and Emmy Noether.
It’s now up to politics and the economy to create incentives for making a career in STEM attractive for young women. Even U.S. president Donald Trump who is not known for being a science enthusiast, has just signed two bills encouraging NASA and the National Science Foundation to recruit women into science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In order to make STEM more attractive for young women, it should be a topic much earlier in their lives.
With robotics building kits like Tinkerbots young girls from the age of 6 get a first insight into the world of robotics, mechanics and computer science. They learn to build their own robot in a playful way as well as to remotely control and program it. Girls also learn that science and technology is not only for boys. After sparking interest in STEM, chances are good that they might be considering a future career in this field. So, exchange the Barbie doll with a robotics building kit and we might see more women in STEM jobs in the future.