What Even Are STEM Jobs & Why's It So Important More Womxn Do Them?
One thing we love to see here at RBL is amazing babes smashing the glass ceiling when it comes to their careers. We all know it’s tough to land the job of your dreams, especially when we’re constantly fighting against issues such as the wage gap, sexism, and the stresses of managing life, families, and social time – all while working. However, one particular challenge for womxn is working in STEM.
You’ve probably heard the term STEM thrown around in the media. It’s for sure a male-dominated field, but what is it actually all about, and why does it matter? Well, womxn comprise nearly half of the country’s workplace, but only occupy 27% of STEM jobs. So yeah – the first thing you need to know here is that womxn are underrepresented in STEM jobs. But together, we can change this.
Here’s our guide to STEM jobs – including why it’s so important to get more womxn in STEM.
What are STEM jobs, exactly?
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The umbrella of STEM incorporates all of those fields and covers a huge range of jobs. If you find yourself taking up a STEM career, you could be working as just about anything from a computer programmer, web developer, or engineer, to a biologist or physicist.
What are the benefits of entering a STEM profession as a womxn?
If you love science, technology, math, and cutting-edge research, we’d love to see you take up a STEM career – you’ve got this!
Careers in STEM are in huge demand. Seriously, the market is flooded with jobs that can’t always be filled. If you’re willing to study a STEM field, we’re not going to lie: it’s tough and requires a lot of dedication throughout college. But the payoff is worth it.
Still wondering “Why should I be interested in STEM?” After graduation, you’ll be able to enjoy a lucrative, high-paying job, with lots of career advancement opportunities. You’ll be contributing to the important representation of womxn in STEM fields. Oh, and you’ll become an amazing role model for young girls everywhere, which is sure to make you feel good.
How do you get more womxn in STEM?
Ok, here’s the problem with STEM: it attracts more men than womxn. For example, only 15% of science and research jobs in the US are held by womxn – that is not cool.
As a society, we need to encourage more whip-smart babes to take up STEM, but it’s not easy. Sexism is real in both the educational system and in the workplace, putting girls at a disadvantage for math and science careers from an early age.
That being said, things have improved in recent years. Now more than ever, there are programs like STEM science camps for kids, scholarships, and an increasing awareness that the lack of female representation is a massive issue.
However, we still have a long way to go, as the field continues to be male-dominated. This needs to change – so here are a few ways we can get more womxn into the fields of math and science.
1. Encourage girls from a young age
A love (or dislike) of math, science, and technology starts from a young age – think elementary school. How often have you heard girls say, “I’m just not good at math!”? Often, it’s not that they aren’t good at math – it’s that they never had supportive teachers encouraging them to develop a passion for math and science.
Both parents and teachers need to be encouraging girls to take more math and science courses from a young age, as this can inspire them to enter STEM fields later in life.
2. Offer more mentorship opportunities
Having a supportive mentor can make all the difference in the world. When you were younger, were you inspired by a badass teacher, coach, or family friend? If so, you know how powerful mentorship can be.
To really get more gals in STEM, we need to create more mentorship opportunities for both high school and college students, plus young graduates. Finding your feet in a male-dominated world is tough – we need to help each other out!
3. Highlight female STEM role models
As a kid, how did you picture a scientist? You probably thought of someone like Bill Nye the Science Guy – a middle-aged white guy in a lab coat. But if you don’t have role models that you can relate to, it can be tough to follow your dreams.
If womxn don’t see others like them working in STEM, it can be a way of subtly discouraging them from entering the field. We need more womxn, especially womxn of color, getting into STEM jobs and becoming role models for younger generations.
4. Create more opportunities
To get womxn working in STEM, companies need to create more opportunities – and this often means leaving their bias at the door. Research has shown that hiring managers tend to hire people who look like them. This means if management roles are held by white men, they’re more likely to hire – you guessed it – other white men. Facepalm.
Companies need to put more awareness on this unconscious bias and end discriminatory practices in hiring. Another thing that will make a huge difference is getting more diversity in management roles, giving more womxn the chance to climb the career ladder in the STEM industry.
If this article has inspired you to learn more about a career in STEM – get it, girl! We’re super proud. To get started, talk to your teachers and mentors about STEM to help you decide if it’s the right career for you. There are plenty of amazing universities and community colleges that can prepare you for a STEM career, giving you the education and experience you need to knock ’em dead.
As author Maya Angelou said: “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women”. Although it’s not easy, by pursuing a STEM career, you’re seriously standing up for all womxn and showing them the amazing things we can accomplish – and that’s a damn beautiful thing.