Bringing Female Representation to STEM

Here at Geek Sources, we are proud that we are a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and that our CEO, Deniz Franck, has been leading this company for almost twenty years. Being a woman in a STEM career is a unique experience, and one that can often feel isolating. Luckily, more and more women are being encouraged to pursue STEM degrees and careers. But more needs to be done.
In January of 2016, the National Science Board released its biennial Science and Engineering Indicators report. While women have been showing overall progress, albeit slow progress, to being better represented in STEM fields, women still only make up about 29% of the science and engineering workforce. Additionally, as a company working specifically in tech, it is upsetting to learn that less than 11% of computer engineers are women. And it’s not because there aren’t women who are qualified – there are so many women out there with untapped potential who could help us achieve parity.

According to the National Girls Collaborative Project’s summary of the report, when it comes to K-12 education, “female students’ achievement in mathematics and science is on par with their male peers and female students participate in high level mathematics and science courses at similar rates as their male peers.” In other words, female and male students are equally successful in STEM-related courses in their formative years. So what keeps these female students from pursuing engineering degrees and careers at the same rate as their male peers? Representation. It’s hard to feel like a part of a community when you don’t see or hear about other people like you in that community. Young women need to know that there are women out there studying and working in engineering fields every day.

To help make women in STEM fields more visible, books, movies, TV shows, and news segments need to highlight these women and tell their stories. The new Ghostbusters movie may be a comedy and may focus on paranormal science, but it also shows three female physicists who speak using actual science and engineering terminology and who build the technology to save their city all by themselves. The Oscar-contender Hidden Figures takes a different approach but also tells the story of three female engineers. Based on a true story, the movie follows these women as they help NASA send the first American into space. Even more importantly, all three women are black, meaning not only women, but women of color are seeing someone who looks like them participating in STEM careers and making a difference.

Here’s how you can make a difference: Encourage the women in your life to pursue what they’re passionate about, whether it be art, science, literature, or aerobics. And for females who show an interest and an aptitude for STEM fields, give them a little extra push. Show them examples of real and fictional women who have pursued these fields: Ada Lovelace, Katherine Johnson, and Marie Curie; Hermione Granger, Temperance “Bones” Brennan, and Scully. Let them know that both men and women can contribute to and succeed in these fields. Help them crack that glass ceiling little by little, until all that’s left is shards.

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