For centuries, primarily men have been credited for innovation, creation, and advancement. Historically, males have been guided to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, morphing STEM into a male dominated field. There has always been a strong fight for female representation in male dominated professions, but this generation should be the one to bridge the gender gap in STEM.
With technology and STEM being the way of the future, it is crucial that women are represented. When fields are primarily dominated by one group, the possibility for new and unique solutions is decreased. Inclusivity, or welcoming of ideas without biases, allows for more diversity in thought, hopefully leading to elegant solutions. According to the World Economic Forum, only 22% of AI professionals are female. In computer science, diversity and inclusion is important because it facilitates new approaches to solve various challenges. For example, there have been many cases where AI algorithms developed an unconscious gender bias because the population, they were trained on was predominately male. A more recent example of this was when Amazon’s hiring AI algorithm developed a bias against women. According to Business Insider, due to the algorithm’s training set consisting of mostly male resumes, the machine started to downgrade female applicants . This gender bias was likely reflected from “subconscious human bias,” which can cause future issues when training other algorithms. Having more women in the tech field can help minimize the gender gap and discrimination present in AI algorithms such as this one. More female representation in this field will allow for AI to learn from both men and women, likely creating algorithms that are less discriminatory.
Along with providing different perspectives, women in stem also serve as an inspiration for younger generations of girls. From a young age, girls learn about famous scientists, innovators, and creators, but they rarely see examples of successful women in STEM. Even in various media outlets, there are limited examples for females in stem. Without strong female examples, younger girls who are interested in STEM, do not have many role models which can dissuade them from entering STEM professions. Girls need more successful women in STEM to look up to; they need someone to pave the path and serve as mentors to them. By entering STEM fields, women have the opportunity to make a significant impact on bridging the gender gap, by inspiring future generation of young women to pursue technology and innovative careers.
Unfortunately, for generations, STEM has been deemed a masculine profession, and was “uncool” for girls and women. According to AAUW.org, girls’ math skills are often underestimated starting in preschool school, initiating an early aversion of STEM. When parents, teachers, and mentors begin to underestimate a young girl’s ability, especially in math and science, they are inadvertently dissuading them to enter STEM professions. Women are also steered away from STEM because of the masculine culture that results in inflexible jobs and opportunities. Because of the large percentage of men in STEM fields, the hours are often inflexible, making it harder for women who want to balance a work and family life. By encouraging more women to enter STEM, these issues can be improved, women can be represented and enrich the culture in STEM.
Ultimately, the STEM field would greatly benefit from a female perspective. Girls would be more likely to enter STEM professions if they see successful female role models, and the culture of technological jobs can be expanded. By encouraging young girls to cultivate an affinity for math and science at a young age, this rising generation has a real shot at closing the major gender gap in STEM.