There are more than 300,000 women enrolled in graduate studies in science, engineering, and health fields (NSF). Despite this growing number, women are still deterred from pursuing science at the highest levels. This is reflected in fewer women earning STEM degrees and having STEM jobs, relative to men. Also troubling is the persistence of socio-cultural biases against women in STEM. But such stereotypes are not proven by new evidence, which shows that the STEM gender gap is not based on differences in intellect or skill level. For instance, a recent study found that girls excelled on a nationwide test of elementary-level engineering and technology skills. Additionally, the types of biases that push women out of STEM are varied, complex, and not straightforward to systematically address. How can we begin to fight these biases? How can we encourage the representation of women in STEM at all career levels?
Below are specific resources—organizations, funding, toolkits—that provide resources for individuals interested in the achievement of gender equity in STEM.
Association for Women in Science (AWIS)
The largest network for women in STEM, AWIS promotes achievement and equity of women across all employment sectors. Benefits of membership include exposure to advocacy and public engagement, affiliate group networking, and leadership and talent development. Particularly, their Mentoring Circle program provides women the opportunity to connect with fellow career scientists in their surrounding region.
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
Though the goals of AAUW are focused on advocacy for women at university institutions as a whole, the organization has programs directed at investing in STEM education for girls. Funding opportunities include various fellowships for different career goals. Additionally, while not STEM-specific, AAUW offers salary-negotiating workshops, a crucial issue in gender equity.
FabFems offers a national database that provides women with a directory of others seeking to establish role model relationships in STEM. This establishes a crucial connection for young women who might not otherwise receive support during critical career points. Eligible women range from college students to anyone working in a STEM career. Participation includes being a role model to K-12 girls passionate about pursuing STEM.
L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowships
As of 2000, this incentive has sought to address the barriers that prevent women from entering and succeeding in science. The incentive now includes a fellowship program that provides funding to academic researchers (varies by country) worldwide, as well as a manifesto –signed by over 33 thousand people! —outlining the commitments of the movement.
Society for Neuroscience (SfN) iWin Toolkit
While specific to neuroscience, the Society for Neuroscience’s recently released Increasing Women in Neuroscience (IWiN) toolkit is a positive example for how international scientific societies can actively combat gender stereotypes in science. The toolkit uses a data-driven approach to address issues specific to promoting women throughout the academic pipeline. Such movements have potential to resolve the lack of women with full-tenured positions in academia by issuing evaluations and concrete solutions.
Gabrielle-Ann Torre is a Ph.D. student in Neuroscience at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.