Friday, March 13, 2015

Women and Girls in STEM

Women in STEM fields is a passion of mine, being a women in science.  This event created dialogue across nations about getting women involved in science.  There were representatives from India, Latvia and the United States.  Several barriers were discussed to getting women into STEM fields.

Teaching Women Science
- Making science engaging and an active learning process.  Actually doing science when teaching science and ensuring that science is taught with a gender neutral lens that both boys and girls can relate to.  

Implicit Violence Present in Science
- Everyone engages in life with inherent and ingrained biases and assumptions.  Science and scientists are painted as unbiased, which is untrue.  When hiring scientists and funding science, social stereotypes have been shown into coming into play. A candidate is seen to be less capable and less qualified if a female name graces the top of a resume.  This leads to women not moving up in science and leaving science in frustration.  These inherent biases need to discussed and realized so they can be countered when attempting to get women to participate in science in a real and meaningful way.  

The Image of STEM 
- The image of who goes into science tends to be socially awkward, unattractive, and male.  These representations of scientist in mainstream media work to present an image that work around the idea that normal people don’t go into science.  Scientist are odd, tend to be awkward loners with no fiends or family, also incapable of having a family.  Work in being untaken partnering with Hollywood to make science seem more normalized and accessible to women and people in general.  Also incorporating the broad spectrum of what STEM careers look like.  A scientist doesn’t always mean a solitary person in a lab coat, someone who shoots lasers, or someone who sits in an office with equations covering the walls.  Scientists have families, friends, and social aspects to their lives like  everyone else.  Working to represent that in media and changing the face of who is a scientist is half the battle.  

Women have specific work life balances that need to be accommodated in the field of science and every workplace.  There needs to be re-entry points for women who take time off to care for family members.  Creating a work environment where women feel supported and encourage women to grow makes it possible to move toward diversity within science, because “Science needs women and women need science.”

The one thing I was hoping to have discussed is the competitive rather than collaborative nature of science.  In my own experience, I found that unwillingness to work with each other and share knowledge was a huge barrier to participating in the possibility of transformative science.  I feel real collaboration also breeds inclusivity.  With this in mind we all move forward in creating a world where women are welcome all sectors of work, especially science. 

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