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Taft Today

Taft Today

Women in STEM

Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons.
Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons.

How many women do you know in STEM? How many women do you know plan on going into a career in STEM? Common answer: not many.

 If I asked you to name some famous women in STEM could you?

According to the American Association of University Women, “Women make up only 34% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and men vastly outnumber women majoring in most STEM fields in college. The gender gaps are particularly high in some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future, like computer science and engineering.” 

If you were to look up women in STEM hands down you would find Lise Meitner.

According to the San Diego Supercomputer Center,  Meitner was a physicist known for discovering protactinium, a radioactive element, and being first to use the phrase “nuclear fission” in a scientific paper. 

The San Diego Supercomputer Center also stated that Meitner worked with Chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann on radioactive substances. The group did tests on a uranium product they thought was radium. When they found that it was in fact barium, they then published their findings.  But due to the Anschluss during World War II, Meitner had to emigrate. Because of this  separation, Meitner’s part in the discovery was not acknowledged to the Nobel Committee; they did not understand the role she played, yet Meitner and her group later went on to  receive the U.S. Fermi prize.

Taft Diverse Learners teacher Jessica Strauss was able to recall a famous woman in STEM.

“Yes, Sally Ride. She is an astronaut,’’ said Strauss.

“An obstacle I think women really face when going into a STEM career is intimidation. Because it is such a man-centered world, I think a lot of the time women get pushed more to English and Histories and Humanities instead of Science and Math for whatever reason. It’s more of a cultural thing,”  said Strauss.

According to Axios, “By the numbers: 57% of female respondents said they don’t think they would be good at a STEM career, versus 38% of males.”  

Nevaeh Aponte, Taft junior, was not able to recall a famous woman in STEM.

“Working in a male-dominated field is not very easy for women, especially in a STEM career because even if you’re really good, in my experience if you’re better than a man your talent is not rewarded, ” said Aponte.

I grew up in a family that always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted.  In my house there were no gendered jobs or gendered subjects.

I was always pushed and encouraged to do my best at everything whether that be Math, Science, English, History, Art, Music, Gym,  and honestly I’m very thankful for that.

 There are a lot of girls who can’t say the same. 

Social beliefs  do have an influence on my interests. From as early as middle school, the roots have already been set. This is not to say there aren’t thousands of women in STEM, or that they don’t enjoy their job, but there might have been more women involved had there been more encouragement in their youth. I hope one day jobs are no longer gendered.

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About the Contributor
Janel Limardo
Janel Limardo, Reporter