Women in STEM: The Achievements and the Struggles

By Elena and Lily

With today being International Women’s Day, we wanted to make sure that we wrote an article about the contributions of powerful women in STEM fields, and how they have struggled. Since both of us are interested in STEM, we find it absolutely ridiculous that these fields are unjustly male dominated, and we wanted to bring light to that issue today. 

Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com

History of STEM

Throughout history, STEM has always been largely dominated by men. Many of the achievements of women have been written off as achievements of men (specifically white men). Being women interested in STEM fields, we know the history of STEM is largely dominated by men, and continues to be dominated by men today.

We’d like you to think for a moment of all the prominent women you can think of in STEM history. Your mind likely goes to Marie Curie, but I doubt many of you can think of too many others. Now, think of all the prominent men in STEM history. A bit easier right? Issac Newton, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, and many other names are probably running through your mind right now.

This doesn’t mean that women in STEM don’t exist: they DO. So why are you having such a difficult time naming them? Because they haven’t been given the credit they deserve. For instance, Rosalind Franklin’s research was crucial to the discovery of the structure of DNA, but the Nobel Prize for the discovery instead went to a group of men who stole her research.

Gender Gap

To this day, a gender gap in STEM exists. Women are still less likely to go into the STEM field and lag behind due to the history in STEM and preconceived notions people have to this day. Our voices are still silenced and less women even go into the field in the first place because of how much more difficult it is to succeed.  

For example, there is a huge gender gap in computer science. Women in computer science only make up about 20% of the field.  These sort of trends exist throughout STEM, which means that there’s a large lack of representation in these fields for women.

If you picture a scientist in your mind, you’re likely picturing a man in a lab coat, since this is what we’ve been taught scientists look like from a young age, but this isn’t the case at all, and it doesn’t have to be. It is crucial we get more representation of women in STEM in order to close the gap.

Importance of Representation

Representation is a lot more important than many people realize. When young children see someone who looks like them in STEM, they see a future they could potentially have. This is likely one of the main reasons why women lack behind in STEM: because they don’t see themselves in these fields.

Of course, this is true for other marginalized groups as well. Representation in these fields lacks overall, and we mostly only see cis white men fill these rolls. Personally, we hope that these fields will become much more diverse in the future, with more representation for young children so that more kids from diverse backgrounds will see that STEM is a viable option for them.

It’s not that Women just “don’t want to” work in STEM fields, it’s that young girls are taught from a young age not to be considering these careers as feasible for them. Whether that’s something that they are outwardly taught or simply something that is subliminally picked up by noticing the lack of representation; it’s a huge problem, and something that can easily be changed. 

Prominent Women in STEM

We’ve already mentioned a couple of prominent women in STEM, but we would like to go through the contributions of a few more. Since representation is extremely important, we would like you to comment down below the names of women in STEM and their contributions that we missed!

The following three women are only a few out of the many, many female scientists, many of which are unheard of even though their contributions are just as important as all of the men you’ve heard about.

Dorothy Hodkin

Hodkin’s research centered around insulin, and she even built the very first insulin molecule. Her work earned her a Nobel Prize in chemistry. She was only the third woman to earn one in chemistry, and the fifth overall to earn a Nobel Prize in science.

Katherine Johnson

Johnson computed for NACA’s space missions, and worked on the first NACA’s mission that sent some of the first humans to space. Johnson was a Black woman, who faced even more difficulties due to racism and segregation. The segregation only ended when NACA be NASA.

Inge Lehmann

Lehmann was the scientist who discovered that the Earth had a solid core. Prior to her research, it was believed the Earth’s core was liquid, but Lehmann studied the seismic waves and realized that Earth’s core must be solid.

Here’s the sources we’ve used! Feel free to peruse at your own leisure: 

https://www.sciencefocus.com/science/10-amazing-women-in-science-history-you-really-should-know-about/

Thank you so much for reading today’s article and please let us know if there’s any blog posts you’d love to see from us. If you enjoyed, please leave a like and a comment down below, and if you enjoy our content, be sure to follow our blog and subscribe to our rss feed. For more content, check out our social media, which is linked down below. As always, stay safe and keep on overachieving!

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