Gender Stereotyping and the Lack of Female Role Models in STEM: Analytical Essay

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Conclusion-

In conclusion, the lack of women working in STEM is caused my three crucial factors: gender stereotyping, the lack of female role models in STEM, and less family-friendly and flexible careers in STEM.

Gender stereotyping can limit childrens’ educational choices and the career path that they choose1. Consequently, boys are more likely to work in science and computing industries whilst women most likely pursue careers in nursing and medicine, resulting in the lack of females entering STEM careers2. The media and the way in which toys are advertised play a vital role in childrens’ exposure to gender stereotypes and ideologies. Referring back to my ‘Draw a Scientist’ Test, the majority of scientists drawn by students were male, despite the fact that all of the students participating in the test were female. Many students’ drew scientists that resembled Einstein. It was revealed in my experiment that the students included 96 total indictors, or stereotypical features of a scientist: examples of indicators include crazy white hair, famous scientific sayings/ catchphrases, glasses/ goggles and lab coats. This suggests that gender stereotyping is prevalent in our society, and more needs to be done the challenge these stereotypes.

The lack of female role models in STEM has lead to a narrow intake of females interested in STEM, both at A Level and undergraduate level1. Female role models in STEM are less accessible in the media and school curriculums, and are less documented: the underrepresentation of females in STEM has resulted in fewer females pursuing a career in STEM compared to their male counterparts2. Throughout history, women have struggled to be taken seriously in the world of science. A more accepting path into science was nursing because it was viewed as a respectable career choice for women as it provided a service3. Women have also not been acknowledged for their fantastic contributions to STEM such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and the first general use computer. To add, there very little to no female role models STEM have been included in the UK’s school curriculum, at primary and secondary school. The movie “Hidden Figures” depicted the lives of three African-American women who worked at NASA during the Cold War4. Despite being faced with adversity due to the colour of their skin and their gender, they worked in the male dominated field of aerospace engineering, helping to launch the first man into space4. If more inspirational female role models in STEM were visible in the media and school curriculums, there may be greater interest among female students to pursue STEM relate professions.

There are few opportunities for STEM employees to find family-friendly and flexible jobs; and if they do, they are usually underpaid5. Only 11% of engineering companies provide their employees with flexible working hours6. 60% of women had faced challenges which discouraged them from returning to a career in STEM, after taking a career break due to family commitments7. Many women identified that this was due to the lack of flexibility in the workplace; this resulted in 27% of women choosing not to return to working in STEM after maternity leave7. Flexible working hours can improve and sustain a healthy work-life balance for employees7, and be of benefit to female employees who have children. Employers can also benefit from offering flexible STEM careers as their employees are more likely to be productive and mentally healthy8. More STEM employers need to offer flexible working hours to their employees as this in turn will persuade more women with children to apply for a STEM job.

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Recommendations to encourage young females to explore STEM-

1. Challenge gender stereotypes in the classroom:

Teachers should be actively challenging gender stereotypes, and educating their students about the dangers of believing in incorrect gender ideologies9. Gender stereotyping needs to be challenged and minimised in the classroom in order to facilitate children’s ambitions, and in this case allow young girls to become interested in STEM careers.

2. Increase the amount of female role models in STEM in the media school curriculums:

Similar movies like “Hidden Figures” need to be made to accurately depict the lives and accomplishments of key female figures in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. School curriculums should provide young female with real-life examples that counter gender stereotypes. If more female role models in STEM were visible in the media and school curriculums, there may be greater interest among female students to pursue STEM relate professions.

3. STEM clubs:

STEM programs that run inside and outside of school can show young women that STEM careers can be exciting; getting them to take part in fun, ‘hands-on’ activities that show the real-life applications of STEM may result in a greater interest among female students to pursue STEM relate professions.

4. Academic/ guest speakers:

Academic speakers such as Speakezee, a platform that connects academics with non-academic audiences, get invited to schools to discuss and engage with students10. The guest speaker gives students career advice, and connects schools to universities10. They often invite female STEM graduate into schools to talk to and inspire young teenage girls to consider pursuing Stem topics at A-level11.

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Gender Stereotyping and the Lack of Female Role Models in STEM: Analytical Essay. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/gender-stereotyping-and-the-lack-of-female-role-models-in-stem-analytical-essay/
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Gender Stereotyping and the Lack of Female Role Models in STEM: Analytical Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 12 [cited 2024 Apr 17]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/gender-stereotyping-and-the-lack-of-female-role-models-in-stem-analytical-essay/
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