Wednesday, July 9, 2014

From STEM to Success

The women truly had the floor at the Clinton Foundation’s “From STEM to Success: A No Ceilings Conversation” held in Denver on June 23rd.  Led by Chelsea Clinton and a panel of influential women in STEM fields, the conversation focused on the ever-present need to get more girls interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

During the discussion, past and present statistics about women in the STEM workforce were used to highlight the need for change.  The statistics indicated a negative shift of the diversity in STEM over the past couple decades.  It was said that in 1984, 37 percent of computer-science degrees were received by women; however, only 12 percent of the same degrees are given to women today.  This obvious decline of women pursuing careers in STEM is why Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton Foundation are seeking a solution to one of America’s largest remaining gender gaps. 

“We’re looking from 1995 until 2015 as to where women and girls have gained in terms of rights and opportunities around the world and in the United States to where gaps still persist.  And STEM around the world, but acutely here in the U.S, is an area where not only the gap remains but the gap has widened in the last 20 years,” said Clinton.  She attributes the widening gender gap to young women and girls not always being encouraged to consider careers in STEM.  

The problem seems to start in the early years of the education system, where middle school teachers have been found to call on boys more often than girls in science and math classes, discouraging the girls’ desire to stick with these subjects.  Other problems include the increasing social pressures women see in the STEM world, like their current underrepresentation in those fields.

Some young students spoke up at the event about their personal experiences with the current social pressures facing women in the STEM industry.  “There’s a lot of boys in our school who if they see a girl doing sciencey stuff they judge you and call you a nerd and stuff. It’s totally fine for the boys, but people judge you for being a girl who likes science.”  Gender bias like this is what the Clinton Foundation’s “No Ceilings Initiative” is attempting to get rid of.

Recently, the Clinton Foundation has joined up with Google on its “Made With Code Project,” which aims to provide young women with female role models, or mentors, in an attempt to offer guidance for a future in STEM.

For more on the Clinton Foundation’s “From STEM to Success: A No Ceilings Conversation,” and what is being done to close the gender gap in STEM, go to:

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