WHY GENDER EQUALITY IN STEM IS IMPORTANT
Gender equality is a topic that has been up for debate for a while now. Many think gender equality is a term that assumes there is no difference between genders. But in reality, gender equality refers to equal access to opportunities and resources such as decision making, economic participation, and educational rights regardless of gender.
That means someone’s gender should not be a reason why they are excluded from opportunities or access to resources. This issue is a universal issue and we can see how it affects the future of girls especially in male dominated fields like STEM.
According to UNICEF, gender equality means “that women and men, and boys and girls both enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections. It does not require that girls and boys, or women and men, be the same, or that they be treated alike.”
And UNFPA also stated that “despite many international agreements affirming their human rights, women are still much more likely than men to be poor and illiterate. They have less access to property ownership, credit, training and employment. This partly stems from the archaic stereotypes of women being labeled as child bearers and home makers, rather than bread winners of the family. They are far less likely than men to be politically active and far more likely to be victims of domestic violence.”
WHY WE NEED GENDER EQUALITY
- It reduces the rate of poverty: Poverty rate is higher in women than in men, mostly because of the education and job opportunities gap between the genders and also cultural factors that prevent women from working especially after they get married contributes to this. One way to push a society out of poverty is by investing in gender equality. Women are more vulnerable to violence and food insecurity.
- It is good for the economy: By increasing the participation of women in the economy, we are increasing the GDP and that helps a society move forward economy wise. According to UN, ‘half of the economic growth over the past 50 years is attributed to girls having better access to education.’
- It increases the chances of having healthier children: When women are allowed to make their own choices and given access to earn more income and participate in the economy, it increases the chances of having healthier children. Women are also known to invest most of their earnings in their families. UN also state that women’s education is crucial in cutting child mortality rates.
- It provides for a healthier working environment: When women are given more access to equal opportunities and equal pay, it provides for a healthier working environment. Women will be more willing to put in their all which will lead to more development.
- Women rights are human rights: Gender equality protects the rights of women and that will save their lives in the long run. By making sure women are given equal access, we are emphasizing on their humanity which is something that gets lost in gender inequality.
WHY WE NEED TO FOCUS ON GENDER EQUALITY IN STEM
- We need more female leaders in STEM
- We need more women in STEM
- We need more access to opportunities
- The world cannot fully develop without the development of women.
- Our dreams are important and should matter too.
- The world is changing and we need to change along with it.
- Women are tired of being locked out of the economy
- Women should be allowed to make their own choices.
- Healthy women lead to healthier children. We need to focus on the next generation.
WISL focuses on gender equality by providing more access to opportunities for women in the STEM field. According to a youth survey report issued by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, young men are almost twice as likely to have a career in computer science and technology-related fields than women. Women make up on average just 22% of the total number of Engineering and Technology university graduates each year. According to the same source, women make-up roughly a fifth of the total number of people working in information and communication technology sector. This disparity starts much earlier when female enrollment in technology and engineering courses in higher institutions is lower than males. This means that men are shaping the technology being developed, while women are largely passive users. Research has shown that better and more useful tools are created when the developers fully represent the diversity of the societies, we live in. In addition, 90% of the jobs in the next 10 years will require technology skills and knowledge. If women are under-represented as technology developers and sophisticated users, we will be left behind in tomorrow’s world. Research has also shown that early-stage, girl-focused intervention, which continue to nurture this interest through their adolescent and early adulthood are critical in closing this gender gap.
WISL’s STEM focused programs for girls provide an avenue to increase the numbers of women working in computer science and related fields by making technology careers attractive and dispelling stereotypes of gender-appropriateness of technology via engaging classes, presenting female technical role models and providing access to mentorship.