As a society, we learn about the world and advance our well being through science and engineering. The United States may be known around the world for its higher education, but compared to many other leading and steadily emerging countries, we lack a strong focus on educating scientists and engineers. One significant reason that we have fallen behind is that we do not encourage our female students to pursue career paths in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
It is, unfortunately, no surprise that the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) still exists – from primary school right up through STEM-related careers. Recent reports call attention, once again, to the statistics: women earn disproportionately fewer STEM undergraduate degrees; women hold nearly 50% of all jobs in the US, but less than 25% of the STEM jobs; women with STEM degrees are more likely to work in education or healthcare than their male counterparts.
Women remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. In the field of engineering, for example, women earned fewer than 20 percent of doctorates in 2014.
Such gaps, however, are not the result of differences in intellectual ability. Girls currently make up over half of the United States’ gifted student population. If girls have the smarts needed for success in STEM, then what factors explain why they don’t pursue education and careers in these fields?