Presence of women in STEM fields falls


Nithya Muthukumar

Information provided by Built By Me, a program to help promote STEM.

Nithya Muthukumar, News Editor

Women made up 27% of the workers in STEM industries compared to the 73% of men workers, and earned 19% less than men, according to Although women make up large parts of biological and social sciences, some of the highest-earning STEM careers, like computer science and engineering, lack women workers.

A study done by Frontiers in Psychology revealed two reasons as to why a group of 1,464 women left the engineering field. The first was due to unfair working conditions while the second was disapproval of their work from their male higher-ups. According to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, the engineering workforce is currently made up of 14% women.
“Though male dominance is a significant issue, women should shift their focus on improving themselves rather than catching up to men,” senior and Women in Science board member Tiffany Tran said.

Another field that has a low number of women is computer science. According to The Guardian, in 1984, the number of women that have a bachelor’s degree in computer science was 37%, however, that number has plummeted to 18%. One main reason why women currently aren’t prominent in this field is because of the misconceptions of computer science, such that it is only for men and isn’t considered feminine. However, a woman, Ada Lovelace, was the founder of the first computer algorithm and had set a spark in this field.

“A lot of people probably think that doing a computer science major only allows women to have a very limited variety of jobs that they can take up,” sophomore and Robotics Team member Anjini Verdia said. “[But] in reality, there are a variety of jobs that encompass computer sciences, and it’s a very useful skill to have,”

Verdia plans to pursue a career in the biotech and astronomy field. Many biotech and astronomy majors are required to take computer science classes. An aspect of the biotech field is the fairly new bioinformatics field, which uses software tools to understand biological information. Other jobs in the biotech field which incorporate computer science are researchers, pharma scientists, analysts, and computational scientists.

Due to the low number of women in STEM, many organizations like Girls who Code want to encourage young women to pursue a career in computer science and close the gender gap in technology. Exposing women to the many STEM paths can lead to a more diverse worker pool in STEM fields in the future.

“I started the Women in Science club in our school to encourage more girls to pursue science and learn more about uncommon fields,” said Tran, “Because I know that STEM fields are viewed as competitive, I wanted to create an environment where students can be comfortable expressing their thoughts”.

In the Chantilly High School community, there are many opportunities for women to participate in other STEM-based clubs such as Robotics, Biochemistry Club, Astronomy Club, Science Olympiad.

“Women represent a large amount of the population,” Verdia said. “Many have strong minds that would provide effective and beneficial ideas in the world of STEM.”