On the occasion of International Women’s Day and this year’s #BreakTheBias theme, we at LiveTiles would like to ask where do girls and women stand in a highly tech-dependent world?
Despite progress in increased opportunities, the status of girls and women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) remains underwhelming. Girls and women all over the globe are far less likely to pursue an education or a career in a STEM field. Less than a third of female students choose to study higher education courses in subjects like math and engineering. That’s a huge waste of potential, given that women comprise 50 percent of the world population.
There are plenty of jobs available in STEM fields but few of them are being filled by women. Only 30 percent of the world’s tech industry professionals are women. Female workers make up an estimated 26 percent of workers in Data and Artificial Intelligence roles, and 15 percent of workers in Engineering roles.
This gender gap is alarming because it shows how women are at risk of getting left behind in an ever-evolving digital workforce. Not getting girls interested in STEM subjects leads to fewer women gaining access to potentially high-paying and rewarding careers.
Breaking Barriers and Stereotypes
What’s discouraging young women from choosing more classes in STEM is the false perception that STEM is more of a “man’s world.” Entrenched gender stereotypes and gender bias are driving girls and women away from going after careers in science, math, and tech-related fields.
Several studies have shown that boys and girls as young as 8 years old have similar abilities when it comes to mathematics for instance. And when girls study maths, they excel. But even when they get the same grades, girls often feel they are less competent in the field than boys. And that may affect their choice to pursue STEM or not.
Parents and female trailblazers in STEM play a crucial role in changing the perception of young girls so they gain confidence in their ability to succeed in STEM. Parents, guardians, and teachers can encourage a mindset of growth and show young girls that STEM is exciting, fun, and fulfilling.
Mentors can help counter gendered stereotypes and negative messaging by driving the conversation about girls and women in STEM fields. Introducing girls to women thriving in STEM fields will instill interest and help them see themselves in STEM majors and careers. It will show girls that women are equally capable as men in STEM and that they can achieve their full potential as software engineers, mathematicians, and innovators.
Why Getting More Girls Into STEM Benefits All
Encouraging STEM for girls is not only crucial for the future of work but also the future of humanity in general. Increasing women’s participation in STEM fields can help reduce the gender wage gap and boost women’s cumulative earnings by $299 billion over the next ten years. That will spur global economic growth and promote much-needed gender equality worldwide.
Building a pipeline of young women entering STEM also enhances workforce diversity, which is good for business. It’s a positive development that strengthens the talent pool, brings in diverse sets of skills and ideas, and fosters creativity, innovation, and productivity.
We must equip girls with the information, resources, and skills they need to be part of the global economy. When men and women can equally contribute to technological and scientific advancements, the world benefits from a deeper understanding of global problems and challenges and the creation of more effective, sustainable, and innovative solutions.
Getting more girls into STEM offers a clear return on investment to society: a strong future of learning and transformation that benefits everyone.