The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine (STEM) fields have always had a woman problem as men, particularly white men, continue to dominate the tech industry. A 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce found that only one in seven engineers are female. Additionally, women have seen no employment growth in STEM jobs since 2000. Leading researchers have considered a phenomenon entitled the “stereotype threat” which is the experience of anxiety or concern where a person has the potential to confirm a negative stereotype about their social group. Stereotype threats, such as “women are not good math,” compound the problem and make women less likely to venture out into the STEM world. These stressors can become detrimental to women's performance, inadvertently increasing the idea of a “woman's brain” not being as good as a “man's brain.”
This complex dilemma continues to unfold itself as more statistics come to light. Only a third of doctoral degrees in STEM are awarded to women and just 25% of STEM positions are occupied by females. Women, in addition, are more likely than men to report job dissatisfaction. These statistics have prompted many researchers to delve deep into the issue and ask valuable questions: Do women who highly value STEM process stereotype threat differently? Do learned aversions interfere with a woman's ability to positively identify with STEM? Can we teach women how to avoid these effects?
Only time and extensive research will tell if the world can change its STEM culture for the better as technology extends its reach into humanity's daily lives and the world becomes more integrated.
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