Women have contributed significantly to the development of societies, economies, and countries throughout history, creating a lasting legacy in the humanities, geopolitics, and science. But the gender gap in science still exists, and it is more pronounced in the STEM fields. According to research, women are less likely than men to pursue STEM fields globally, and only 30% of scientists and engineers are female.
Despite the fact that there is ample and growing evidence that gender diversity encourages greater innovation, a number of women are still prevented from entering this exciting and rewarding field due to obstacles like discrimination, stereotyping, a lack of support, mentorship, and outdated perceptions. Further evidence that while the pandemic is gender-neutral, its effects are not can be found in the fact that COVID-19 had a disproportionate effect on women in the fields of science and engineering.
This emphasizes the urgent need for more women to enter the tech industry because, as long as there are gender barriers, no nation can hope to reach its full scientific potential.
Studies show that achieving gender equality in India, where women make up less than 20% of the workforce, will have a positive economic impact on the country’s GDP, which is projected to rise by 27% and add up to US$700 billion by 2025.
The key to accomplishing this is empowering women in the economy and eliminating gender disparities in the workplace. Having female mentors is essential for enabling women to enter and succeed in STEM fields. There is enough data to support the hypothesis that women perform better when they have other women in leadership roles who they can look up to and who can serve as mentors and role models. It may be true that there is a disparity in the representation of women in STEM fields, but this gap can only be closed by providing equal opportunities, such as targeted scholarships and mentorship programs. When gender barriers are eliminated, a country can only fully realize its scientific potential.
Building support systems and mentors
The urgent need goes beyond just giving women more opportunities to work in STEM fields. The creation of role models for girls and young women, the development of mentors in the workplace, and the creation of support networks for all women are powerful steps in the fight against gender stereotypes.
However, creating a gender-diversity dividend in STEM fields requires more than just changing the makeup of organizations or classrooms; it also necessitates systemic social and psychological changes. These adjustments include providing young girls with outstanding STEM role models and making sure that women in the field are well-represented and valued. As more women enter STEM fields, more young girls will become aware of the variety of employment opportunities that are available to them.
Another great way to promote a growth mindset in STEM fields is to involve young women in experiments and activities that are connected to real-world issues and situations so that they can gain practical experience. Encouragement of the habit of asking questions about the topics and their practical applications will also motivate students to look for solutions and experience the thrill of STEM. More qualified women being included in research projects can improve their originality and depth of thought.
The fact remains that women contribute distinctive viewpoints to scientific discussions and research that would be missed in a team that is exclusively composed of men. However, a team that is inclusive and diverse will generate outcomes that are more applicable to a broader audience and will do away with any gender bias that has historically favored men.
As a teacher, I firmly believe that by focusing on encouraging more girls and young women to pursue careers in STEM, we are contributing to the improvement of the world.