Females Are The Future of STEM

Young women are breaking traditional roles through the help of such programs as STEM.

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Young women are breaking traditional roles through the help of such programs as STEM.

A February article from BigRentz entitled “Women in STEM Statistics to Inspire Future Leaders” by Jim Arabia, highlights the statistics in which women are leading in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) orientated career fields. Mentioned in Arabia’s article, the number of women in board positions in STEM-related industries in 2020 was 19.2% and women only made up 3% of STEM industry CEO’s. Arabia’s article exhibits how STEM career fields are statistically dominated by men and significantly lack female representation. Arabia also states how young girls attending high school will find pursuing a future in STEM intimidating, knowing they would be a minority in such rigorous fields.

Feelings towards entering the STEM program vary. Young girls find excitement in identifying what they are passionate about, setting a goal, and working to achieve it. But the challenges they may face, because of variables out of their control like gender or race, cause anxiety and uncertainty. Senior, Angela Morka, has shown interest in STEM since a young age. She aspires to pursue a PhD or a joint degree, called a mPhd, where she can be a physician and a researcher. 

“My mom is a pharmacist and that is what has aligned me down this path and what has sparked my interest. As a woman and as a person of color, it can be a little scary sometimes. It can definitely be mentally and emotionally exhausting. But if you really love it and have that passion for it, I think it’s so worth it because you can get a lot out of the experience, making your life better, ” said Morka.

Modern feminism has had an impact on the way women respond to the lack of representation they have in STEM leadership roles. Principal, Ashley Alloway, has observed how in her own household feminism shaped the mindset she has towards women being in non- traditional or powerful positions. 

“My job is not something that is traditionally held by a woman. High school principals are usually men. My mom was a high school principal and she told me if this is what you wanna be, go do it. My mom was one of those early feminist who didn’t let people put her in a box. With STEM and all other career fields that have been male dominated, what we have to remember is just because it’s the way it’s been doesn’t mean it’s the way it should be moving forward. I would encourage teenage girls to pursue what they are interested in,” said Alloway. 

While women representation within STEM is low, it is not completely absent. Young girls find role models within their school, community, or even by conducting research on their own expanding their knowledge of women leaders involved in STEM. Morka, reaches out to her role models, when having anxiety about her STEM journey. 

“I reach out to mentors who look like me, like other women and other people of color. They can give me advice and guide me through. It’s always nice to have someone there for you and it’s really important to find that person,” said Morka. 

Junior, Kailtyn Jung, has found that person. Her A.P Biology teacher, Christina Peralta provides her with support and advice, while pursuing STEM.

“I’m taking A.P Biology. My teacher is really helping me understand the basics of biology which will prepare me for a future in STEM. She really cares about what her students are learning and if they are actually retaining the information,” said Jung. 

Organizations like, Society of Women Engineers and The American Association of University Women, work to secure the success of women involved in STEM and increase the number of women who are of high authority in their STEM career fields. These organizations in some ways are even helping young girls who have yet to enter the STEM field. Junior, Sydney Lewis, believes that the organizations that provide opportunities for STEM contenders, help encourage a generation of girls to take on the demanding field. 

“I might encourage teen girls to pursue STEM orientated career fields by emerging them early into STEM-based classes and STEM clubs or camps that organizations provide. Knowing that STEM is a male dominant career field makes me determined to do well because I know there are more pressures and challenges as a girl in STEM,” said Lewis. 

These organizations have value even in students who don’t have an interest in STEM. Junior, Madison Halfmann, praises organizations like Society of Women Engineers and The American Association of University Women, for encouraging girls who fear they don’t have what it takes to truly be successful in STEM. 

“There is always a need for more people to research and help out in the fields of higher knowledge. So knowing that girls could prepare themselves by researching and taking courses at school and within organizations to learn the basics is really cool,” said Halfmann.

High school teachers can have a large influence on the mindset of students. Not only their teaching style, but also the mental and emotional support they provide, may give students the push they need towards STEM. AP Environmental Science Teacher, Lindsey Tashman, took many science and math courses in college where at times she was the only girl in the room. 

“I would encourage teen girls to try to volunteer and apprentice at different organizations that deal with STEM. They should try to be involved in as many clubs and committees and activities as they can, that are related to the field they are interested in. Students need that experience to set them apart from the rest of the competition in their chosen field,” said Tashman.

Morka, throughout her four years of high school, has dedicated an immense amount of time to gaining the experience that will set her apart from the rest of her competition.

“I’m taking very challenging science and math courses. I’ve had teachers who have really helped me get through them, but have also given me the right amount of challenge so I can feel prepared. This past summer I did a research program, and took two STEM classes. Although challenging, my summer was fulfilling. Even though I was working all day, it was worth it. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on a different kind of summer,” said Morka.  

What STEM programs may not realize is the lack of female representation does not go unnoticed by young female scholars eager for a future in science, technology, engineering, or math. Since conducting research on her own, the knowledge that women don’t have a large influence in STEM has had it’s hold on Morka. But the fact won’t stop her from doing what she is truly passionate about and she encourages other girls to do the same.

“It’s sadly typical today to see not many women in high STEM positions, but it also empowers me to keep going and get to where I want to be. You can be the representation that you desired for yourself when you were younger. Keeping at it even though it’s hard, can really make a big impact on you and the community,” said Morka.