Challenges facing Women in STEM

Challenges facing Women in STEM

There are many challenges facing women in STEM; this is a cause and effect of the fewer women in STEM than men
Gender Unequal pay is one of the most prominent challenges women in STEM face which is depressing. Women in STEM earn 31% less than men in STEM (( An analysis by a P.H.D graduate in Columbus, Ohio)

 

Early last year, I wrote an article titled ‘You are a dummy if you do not believe in Gender Equal Pay’(http://bit.ly/2lBDalW) and the article summarized my experience working as a young female in a Tech company and being the only female. Specifically on my direct exposure with less pay because of my gender; a trend that is all too familiar in the STEM world these days- one which must be called out by everyone especially women. Although I worked with smart male counterparts, I thought myself more intelligent than the majority of them, this is because they found easy tasks at work cumbersome and could not engage in intellectual conversations with me. When I confronted my boss, these words fell on my face and have built the framework of my advocacy for equal gender pay. He said to me- ‘You are only but a female, you do not need to earn more or even close to what males are earning’.

 

Another challenge women in STEM face is Stereotype Threat and Implicit Bias which arises in situations where a negative stereotype is relevant to evaluating performance. A female student taking a Math test experiences an extra cognitive and emotional burden of worry related to the stereotype that women are not good at Math. When the burden is removed, however, her performance might improve.

 

Also, people assume you are not the one in charge too often, many women in STEM complain about how they are often mistaken for administrative staff or nurses when they are in fact Engineers and Doctors.
Sadly, this comes from both their colleagues and clients.

 

Furthermore, The bar seems to be raised Higher for a woman in STEM, you often have to work harder than the men around you to prove yourself or even to be taken seriously at all. While this might be a motivating force; on the other hand, it can be a de-motivator or shut the women out of the STEM ranks if they fail.

Lastly, Sexual and emotional harassment, a problem for women in general, is particular to women in STEM mostly because there are more men and there haven’t been serious substantial measures to prevent this.

 

An analysis by IMF (https://bit.ly/2jYTLKT)reveals that firms with a larger share of women in senior positions in STEM have a higher return on assets.

 

I propose five solutions to the challenges facing women in STEM;

First of all, and fundamentally, we must make men and women understand that STEM is not a man’s world, right from when they are children.
Secondly, we should encourage girls to take STEM-inclined classes and acquire STEM skills.

Also, we should spread the word about the many achievements of women in STEM to encourage these women. Furthermore, we should make key performance indicators and expectations clear and standard for men and women on the same level.
Lastly, we should take serious measures to correct men who harass women in STEM.

 

Written By

Susan Ikegwu

Follow her on Twitter and IG @Suzy_Smallz

 

 

Jane Egerton-Idehen is a telecommunication executive with over 13 years’ experience in the Nigerian, Liberian and Ghanaian telecommunications markets. Jane has a strong passion for promoting girls in STEM and ensuring women in STEM industries remain and grow their careers in that industry. She curates her thoughts around her career journey, experiences and passion in life.