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Women in STEM: Developing strategies to boost participation

Take action to reduce bias: from acting as a mentor, to speaking at a career fair at schools.

© Digital Journal
© Digital Journal

To gain an insight into the process, Lindsay Mantzel, Senior Full Stack Developer, Retrospect (StorCentric) explains to Digital Journal that more needs to be done in order to champion the voices of women at work. This is especially so for the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, where female participation rates are low.

UNESCO, the European Commission and The Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia (AASSA), have each been outspoken about the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields globally (the UNESCO report is available here).

Mantzel explains the background to this issue: “While we cannot ignore the tremendous progress that has been made, we live in a world where perceptions of what it means to be a woman or a man are still very much defined by stereotypes.”

Globally, women make up only 28 percent of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Furthermore, men vastly outnumber women majoring in most STEM fields in colleges and universities.

Looking at her own career path, Mantzel recounts: “I have been fortunate to have forward thinking parents, educators and employers that have encouraged me to reach for and achieve my goals of working in STEM. However, others around the world remain not as fortunate.”

Drawing on the recent celebration, Mantzel connects into 2022’s focal points: “This year, as we consider how we would like to recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day, I encourage everyone to lean into the conversation around gender stereotypes.”

Acknowledging the issue is one thing, changing it for the better is something else. Here Mantzel  recommends: “And then, I hope people take action – there are so many ways to do so – from acting as a mentor, to speaking at a career fair at schools, to simply donating to an organization dedicated to the cause. In other words, let’s help close the opportunity gap, with a goal of ensuring girls and women have all the support and resources necessary to reach their full potential.”

Such measures are necessary in order to ensure future generations have the support and resources necessary to explore, pursue and grow in these fields.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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