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Mind the (Gender) Gap

Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)

Whatever the reason, we know that by the end of middle school most girls limit their consideration of technical careers. Having decided that science and technology have little to do with their aspirations, they take fewer and less rigorous science courses.

For the past several years, there has been increasing public attention on the gap between men and women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. Today 75% of the nation’s scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and technologists are male. There are several theories as to why this imbalance has persisted. Some believe the media fosters an image that scientists and mathematicians are all male. Others feel that educators may unconsciously steer men to these more traditionally “male” career fields and women into the traditionally “female” fields such as teaching and nursing.

This has led to many public and private organizations creating programs to introduce younger girls to these subjects, from national efforts like the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) to local groups such as Techbridge in California. Just last month, the White House Council on Women and Girls announced new partnerships and programs to promote women and girls in STEM disciplines, including programs through NASA, Girls Inc., The Entertainment Industries Council and the Girl Scouts.

This gap did not arise from a lack of ability or aptitude. Through programs such as the above, we can start leveling the playing field and help eradicate social stigmas that try to label a career choice as male or female.

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