Gender Inequity in STEM
This image represents the
anemic female presence in the
majority of STEM at all levels of
education and the work field.
Sadly, it doesn’t even tell the
entire story, women are actually
losing ground in engineering
and technology. The National Science Foundation reported that women
only accounted for 11.2% of bachelor degrees in science and engineering
in 2012, 8.2% of awarded master’s degree in those fields, and 4.1% of
doctorate degrees (National Girls Collaborative, 2015). As abysmal as
those numbers are, they pale in comparison to how women fair in
mathematics, statistics, and computer science where women make up
less than roughly 20% of the workforce. Only 15% of female freshman in
a 2006 study by the National Science Foundation declared a STEM major
compared to 29% of all male freshman. When you remove the biological
sciences, women barely register as declared STEM majors with a mere 5%
declared majors in the remaining fields (Catherine Hill, 2010). Though a
great deal of the data comes from university enrollment, degrees
awarded and the workforce, the pipeline for women into STEM narrows
drastically between 5th and 7th grade.
There are three current theories explaining why women aren’t gaining
ground in the predicted rate in STEM fields:
the notion that men are superior in mathematics, therefore,
more suited for the fields.
the notion that women are simply “not interested”.
the notion that women leave the workforce in greater numbers
and are subsequently underrepresented.
The first two became a pivoting point for our research at ASB, and we
choose not to dedicate time to the third as it lies outside the reach of our
institution and could ultimately be mitigated with success within K- 12
education. While most educators shudder at the suggestion that gender
plays a role in our ability to be successful in math and science, research