While innovative women have made important scientific discoveries throughout history, it’s no secret that today, the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) face a gender diversity problem.
According to a 2020 report from the National Science Board, as recently as 2017, women accounted for just 29% of the physical scientists in the U.S., 27% of computer and mathematical scientists, and only 16% of engineers.
What’s behind the lack of women in STEM today?
The issue of gender representation in scientific fields is a hotly contested topic. In general, internal and external bias, as well as cultural factors, contribute to the list of reasons why there are fewer women in STEM.
A 2019 study published in Science of Learning found that boys and girls use similar neural processes while engaged with mathematical concepts. This research indicates that biological differences may have less of an impact on the participation of women in STEM than some people have previously argued.
Unfortunately, girls are often given the impression that science, math and related disciplines are for boys. This notion can be transferred to impressionable children in ways that are both implicit and explicit.
For women who do go on to select careers in STEM, they are too frequently met with environments that exclude them, and they often encounter the same negative stereotypes they grew up with.
It’s important that we celebrate the successes of innovative women in STEM to change our cultural expectations of what a scientist looks like and encourage boys and girls, as well as men and women, to understand that anybody can be a leader in this important field.
An innovative and inclusive approach to STEM education
Courses available through ASU Online are built on a foundation of innovation that encourages women in STEM to pursue their aspirations.
In order to make STEM education available to a wider variety of innovative women and other dedicated students, Arizona State University became the first institution to offer biochemistry and biological sciences programs online. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, ASU has been ranked by a survey of other colleges and universities as the most innovative university in the country for six consecutive years, which is as long as the designation has been awarded.
With more than 90 STEM degrees available at ASU Online, working professionals can pursue bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees online.
Nature.com — Science of Learning — Gender similarities in the brain during mathematics development
ASU News — ASU named No. 1 in innovation for 6th consecutive year
National Science Board — The State of U.S. Science & Engineering