Editorial: Concerning lack of women in STEM

Anna Callahan, Reporter

In science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related jobs the amount of women is shockingly low.

According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, in the US girls account for more than half of all Advanced Placement (AP) test-takers, yet boys outnumber girls 4:1 in computer science exams. And in college women make up 57% of all undergraduate degrees, 42% of all undergraduate math and statistics degrees, 40% of all undergraduate physical sciences degrees, but only 18% of all undergraduate computer and information sciences degrees.

According to the National Science Foundation, despite the projected growth of 15-20% between 2012 and 2022, the vast majority of computer science jobs will be pursued and filled by men. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that by 2020 there will be more than 1.4 million computing-related job openings.However, at current rates women will only fill about 30% of those jobs with U.S. computing bachelor’s graduates.

Without women adding their own ideas and thoughts, America loses 50% of their populations contribution. Mandating computer science classes in K-12 education could change that by giving a larger opportunity for people (men and women) to get more of a feel for the STEM field at an earlier age.

However, according to Education Week, currently only 34 states and the District Of Columbia allow computer science to count as a math or science graduation requirement, and the number of high schools offering AP Computer Science is down 35% since 2005.

As a result as people go on to college men earn the vast majority of STEM related bachelor degrees. According to research done by the National Girls Collaborative Project, men earn 81% of engineering degrees, while women earn 19%. In computer sciences men earn 82% of degrees while women earn 18%. And in physics 61% of degrees are earned by men, while only 19% are earned by women.

The severe lack of women within the STEM field is very concerning. Despite the amount of girls that outnumber boys in AP tests and the near equal amount of women earning undergraduate degrees in the STEM field they are still severely outnumbered in the working class world.

This staggeringly unequal amount of men to women in the STEM field is a problem, and it is our job to make it right by giving everyone a better opportunity to explore the STEM field and educate themselves in it from a young age by instilling more STEM field courses into K-12 education.

Schools can encourage more girls to participate in the STEM field through things such as encouraging them to participate in things like Girls Who Code, or simply encouraging girls to add STEM courses like computer science to their schedule.