Women In STEM Around The World: Where We've Improved, And Where We Can Do Better

Signs at the recent Women's March, the largest demonstration in US history. Armend Nimani/AFP/Getty Images

Let’s All Look On The Bright Side

There are some positive signs of change afoot, however. It is true that there are more women in STEM than ever before, and they are dominating the fields of anthropology, archaeology, forensics, pharmacology, zoology, and psychology, to name but a few. In important, public ways, women in STEM occupations are being promoted a lot more than they used to.

One study revealed that the gender bias may be switching sides in some senses, with one study concluding that male and female employers are more likely to hire women for professorial roles in psychology, engineering, and biology than equally qualified male counterparts.

Obviously, people should be hired based on their expertise alone, but it’s demonstrably clear that there’s an enormous problem here with women in STEM. It’s a complicated issue, but one that has a rather straightforward solution: Treat men and women the same when it comes to science – and everything else, come to think of it.

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Lest we forget – young girls love science just as much as young boys. Despite everything going against them, some of them manage to get into a STEM field. It’s hardly the end of the fight at this point, though.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to become a paleontologist,” Franzi Sattler, a palaeontologist specializing in evolutionary biology and biodiversity from the Free University of Berlin, told IFLScience. “I didn't even know the word for it (‘dinosaur woman’ never failed to confuse my parents), but I was sure that this is what I was born to do.”

Sattler has worked with Tristan, one of the world’s best-preserved T. rex specimens. Although she says that there are “a lot of amazing women of all ages” that are “proud to support each other” in the paleontological community, she still “feels the pressure of being a woman in a still male-dominated field a lot sometimes.”

“I constantly have the feeling that people expect me to get married, start a family and drop everything that I have worked for,” Sattler adds. “Stable positions and guaranteed funding would be one way to make academia more desirable for young female researchers.”

Be Bold For Change

The theme of 2017’s International Women’s Day is “Be Bold For Change.” It’s ridiculous that asking for a level playing field for both men and women is considered “bold”, but here we are, in 2017, still wondering when this’ll be achieved.

If you’d like to see more done to help boost the support and recruitment of women in STEM, then there are several things you can do.

Sign up here to campaign for women’s education as part of International Women’s Day. Become a STEM Ambassador in the UK or the US, or donate to one of these absolutely amazing charities that help get girls and women into science. March alongside them, and stand up for science.

And, if you know a woman in STEM, take some time to let them know how awesome they are. By merely studying a STEM subject, they are going against society’s tide.

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In this sense, any women involved in STEM – whether they are an elderly researcher or a little girl standing up for science – are pioneers, and they deserve not just our applause, but action, to change things for the better.

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