March 8 is International Women’s Day, in case you didn’t know. I didn’t…oops 🙂
Coincidently, Nathalia Gjersoe published a piece via The Guardian examining gender gaps in STEM. She touches on whether or not they are socially constructed (they are), whether or not girls are worse than boys at STEM subjects in school (they’re not), and more.
Although many factors are at play here, I will point out one undeniable truth of the matter. A disproportionate number of gals are capable of entering technical fields, but don’t.
Society has come a long way in the last few decades. We are now dying to know why so many women choose to abandon their STEM potentials.
Well, I can tell you why I didn’t.
I’m a very proud member of academic and professional organizations wherein gender neutrality is strongly enforced. All the same, I would be lying if I said gender disparity and “social belongingness” never cross my mind as a woman, an engineering student, and an engineer.
My upbringing renders such thoughts irrelevant. Before I could even form memories, I was told I could do or be anything if I work hard. My dad spoke as though it is probable, not possible, for me to earn the same positions and salaries as he (a highly-specialized software consultant).
So I was bulletproof. No child, adult, teacher, professor, peer, male or otherwise could make me doubt my sense of belonging in a male-dominated field. Not Josh* in 5th grade, who was genuinely confused when I showed up to math league tryouts as I was known for my makeup, pocketbooks, and little else. Nor Spence* in college, who suggested I was too sensitive when I felt patronized by an administrator.
I’d like to hear from other ladies in STEM: Why didn’t you abandon your STEM potential?