Gender Gaps in STEM: Advancing Women in STEM strategy
In Australia, girls and women do not proactively participate in STEM Education, in workplaces or even in levelling up to senior leaders. Society undervalues the benefits and opportunities that careers from STEM provide for women and girls. It goes a long way back and even progresses as more and more career opportunities are developed.
Gender inequalities often start in the unequal participation of gender representatives in STEM Education and advance their career path. Clearly, it is very alarming to see how women are not fully welcomed in the STEM field. Through this, let’s bridge the gender gap in this STEM and computer sciences industry.
Women Ratio in the STEM field
According to Youth in STEM Research in 2019-2020, women and girls have low interest and have low confidence in STEM subjects than boys and men, especially in information technology and engineering. But when women are asked which of the following are the most important: Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology, 84% of women say that Technology is the most important.
According to a statistical overview of the engineering profession, it is noticeable that girls and boys have the same average performance in the National Assessment Program-Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). Fewer girls still got the highest level in year 3 and 5 Numeracy tests in NAPLAN in 2017. When they reach year 12, almost 50% of enrollees in year 12 Science subjects come from girls, and only 26.3% of girls enrolled in Information and Communication Technology subjects. And having a low representation in these critical subjects would significantly future career opportunities for girls, both in STEM or not. This actual scenario creates gender inequality in STEM Education and the workplace.
Every country, including Australia, prepares and gears toward an advanced digital and technological economy. It is why careers in Engineering and Information Technology (IT) will be essentially more significant to Australia's economic transition. And with what's still happening to girls and women being underrepresented from universities and vocational education and training (VET) in these career paths, this would still lead to low participation in the future STEM workforce. According to statistics for vocational education and training in 2016, only 11% of women finish vocational courses, and only 15% of women finish undergraduate courses on domestic Engineering and Related Technologies.
The Reason behind Gender Discrepancy in STEM
There are a lot more studies to back up how women are left behind in the STEM workforce. But in reality, this does not only apply to STEM fields. There is unequal participation of women in the workforce and wages where women earn less than men.
There are several reasons why these happen. We could list them down here, but primarily because of cultural and career barriers from the workplace to the mindset where women are expected to take care of children primarily. The percentages are very low when it comes to women's work participation compared to men.
Not only that, girls and women, especially those who belong to the minority groups (rural or remote areas), encounter many roadblocks when it comes to pursuing STEM Education or even advancing their careers in any of their chosen fields. There is also stereotyping, and bias is also a reason and lack of female inspiration, inflexible work arrangements and insecurities in career paths. Parents can show biases within families and relatives when choosing careers where some STEM fields are thought to be the best fit for boys and men. It and other key influencers can significantly affect women's and girls' decision to take the path toward STEM education and career.
But with the advancing technology, there should also be more and more people, especially women, who should participate in STEM Education and STEM Workforce. Based on the previous survey in Youth in STEM Education, out of 1000 girls and women in high school and in the university, 84% say that Technology is vital to study to gain future employment.
Women in Technology and Computer Sciences
Even though some women doubt taking careers in computer sciences, history and facts never fail to prove how women fit well in this field. Lots of successful women in a society rocked their projects and jobs in the tech industry. They even got loud and big female names making them perfect inspiration for little ladies. Here are some of them:
#1 World’s First Computer Programmer - Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace is a friend of the first general computer inventor Charles Babbage. To make the computer work, Lovelace built the world’s first computer program. Through this, the applications for the analytical engineer for computers to work are still working today. She has a huge passion, interest, and gift for maths, making her the first computer programmer.
#2 US Navy and Computer Scientist - Grace Hopper
Another inspiration for young ladies today is Grace Hopper. She is part of the first programmers for the Harvard Mark 1 computer. This computer has a general-purpose for World War II. Hopper is also a computer scientist who built a 500-page Manual of Operations for the computer automatic Sequence-Controlled Calculator! Not just that, She also created a compiler that translates intermediate programs to English language instructions.
Hopper is undoubtedly an empowered woman in technology!
#3 Critical Space Calculations - Katherine Johnson
Katherine Johnson helped NASA to confirm their electronic computers’ accuracy for critical calculations in space. She also assisted in making equations for orbital spaceflight. Furthermore, through her impressive skills and talent, she ran equations for desktop mechanical calculating machines suitable for John Glenn’s 1962 orbital mission.
Most importantly, Johnson participated in calculations for Project Apollo’s Lunar Lander, the Earth Resources Satellite, and Space Shuttle calculations.
#4 Computer Scientist and Systems Engineer for Moon Landing - Margaret Hamilton
Another lady from her generation excelled in computer sciences and system engineering. Margaret Hamilton introduces the term “software engineering.” Hamilton built a software development for Apollo 11. It is the first and foremost spacecraft that successfully landed on the moon in 1969. Hamilton is credited with the astronauts’ safety and mission’s success. Other space flights are also calculated by Hamilton, which led her to receive awards from NASA.
#5 Computer Scientist in Developing Blueprint for Graphical User Interface - Adele Goldberg
The IT industry also recalls the developer of some of the world’s most notable programming languages. Adele Goldberg built various software designs making her capable of guiding the development of the Apple Macintosh desktop. She was also the president of the Association for Computing Machinery for years 1984 to 1986.
#6 Software Development Firm Owner - Stephanie Shirley
Another important woman in IT and computer programming is Stephanie Shiley. She built a software firm for Freelance Programmers. She also inspires women to pursue computer sciences through her speaking engagements, own foundation, and institution.
#7 First Female Chief Technology Officer - Megan Smith
One of the well-known Google executives is Megan Smith. She generated the idea of the tech hackathon to innovate the protective suits of Ebola virus health workers. She also created the White House website for STEM women. Smith is a very active tech advisor who pursues tech diversity in the workplace and industry.
#8 The Six ENIAC Women
ENIAC or Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer is the first all-electronic programmable computer. The people behind ENIAC are women such as Jean Bartik, Fran Bilas, Kay McNulty, Ruth Lichterman, Marlyn Wescoff, and Betty Snyder. This group of female computer scientists masters programming using logical diagrams, then they built the ENIAC in 1945. Thanks to this group of powerful women in building the “giant brain” that made an impressive advancement in technology.
You see, tons of incredible women are involved in the computer sciences and technology. They are not just part of the projects but rather accomplished incredible ideas and development!
Through all these shreds of evidence in the history of technology, it clearly shows how your young daughter can help in the future’s computer sciences progress. Moreover, it debunks the stereotyping of women only for arts, music, and household.
With this said, let's go back to our main question:
Should I allow my daughter to learn to code?
If you want your daughters to play an essential role in the society in the chosen field they want to take, without biases and prejudice, then YES!, you should allow your kids to learn to code. What does coding have to do with all of the things I mentioned? In giving equal opportunities and representation of female gender in STEM education and workforce?
Well, for one, coding can help your daughters learn not just the coding process but the principles of why coding exists and how it powers websites, apps, and technology in general. There are several reasons why you should allow your kids to learn to code. But one of the most important reasons is that coding enhances your kids’ academic performance, especially in core subjects like Math and Science. Also, it is beneficial for young kids, especially girls and women, to learn in coding classes because it is one of the core foundation subjects in STEM Subjects like Engineering, Computer Science and Information Technology. Learning how to code can help your daughters prepare for their future STEM subjects and equip them with the right coding skills in their chosen STEM careers.
What can you do as parents?
There are a lot of things that you can do for your daughters when they are still young and thinking of the career they want to take. Allowing them to take online coding classes can help their academic performance and improve their creativity and logical thinking to become more decisive, and equip them in their future career and life skills. In this way, you also help your daughters be interested in coding the STEM subjects related to it, like Computer Science, Engineering and Information Technology.
Whether they are in primary school, high school or university, we as parents should be the ones first to support our daughter’s endeavours and plans, especially if they take an interest in pursuing a STEM career.
Whilst there are still gender inequality in STEM workplaces, gender pay gaps, pressure from key influencers and even career biases, there are many programs that include STEM in Australia's education system. These programs allow young girls and women to participate and join in building STEM knowledge actively. They also help girls and women make important life decisions like financial choices for their families and even for themselves.
It all starts by fostering a passion for STEM at an early age. Like the other active programs for STEM education, our curriculum is designed to empower girls and foster a lifelong love of STEM learning. As parents, the main thing that we can do is take that big decision to allow your kids, especially your daughters, to learn this curriculum. Help your daughter get interested in taking kids coding classes to prepare better using one of the stepping stones toward a future STEM career.
Schools with STEM curriculum
In Sydney, Australia, a kids coding, STEM, and computer science school is available. It is also a STEM accredited and STEM certified kids coding school. This school for both young men and women is Skill Samurai.
At Skill Samurai, your little ladies are very welcome to learn and master coding, robotics, maths, artificial intelligence, and game development. They can also understand the world of computer science at a very young age. In this case, you are already helping them get equipped with career-ready skills, making them possible to succeed in tech fields.
Just like other female computer scientists, would you like your daughter to be one? Get started today.