A game of hide and seek: where are all the women in STEM?


For 2015, National Women’s History month has a theme of “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives.” The theme encourages women to share stories of their past to build a stronger, more confident future.

I’m a business student focusing in Information Systems, the study of using technology to collect, store, process, and deliver data. I was surprised when I realized that the majority of my classmates were men. Then I learned of a common alternative acronym for the engineering school (ENG): “Expect No Girls.” This got me thinking: Why, in 2015, are women under represented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related fields? In an effort to encourage young women to pursue STEM subject areas, this is my story.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been on a computer (my mom can vouch for me). From learning HTML for my Neopets page to acing Type to Learn during class, I quickly got comfortable with the computer and it became second nature. By age seven, I was even teaching my technologically deficient parents the basics of Microsoft Office.

Here I am with my older brother; he was always a big influence on my love for games.

Here I am with my older brother; he was always a big influence on my love for games.

So, why is it that I didn’t take my first computer science course until I was 20 years old? Clearly the interest was always there, but the encouragement and information wasn’t. Up until my third year at Boston University, I had no real idea what Information Systems was and I was on track to study Accounting and Finance, simply because everyone else was doing it. It wasn’t until my first mandatory Information Systems course when I realized that it was the perfect major. I love how it combines business and technology while allowing me to use my analytical and organizational skills to someday help an organization’s daily operations.  

What I’m curious about is what happened (or rather, what didn’t) in between elementary school and college. Maybe I thought a career in technology would be too challenging. Or maybe I had a strong presumption that computer geeks were usually male.  

My story is only one example of why we need schools to educate today’s youth in STEM so that everybody has a chance to discover their passion in a supportive environment. Plenty of research has been done to analyze the why behind the lack of women persuing STEM careers, but the truth is that there is gender inequality within STEM-related fields. By encouraging girls and women to explore their creativity in new ways and aim for challenging careers, we may start to equalize this imbalance. Let’s weave more women into our nation’s technology stories to inspire future generations.

To get started, here’s a list of inspiring videos (and a FableVision Studios project) some organizations have done to address the issue of #WomenInSTEM:

1. Verizon – Inspire Her Mind
Words can have a huge impact. From “don’t get your dress dirty” to “why don’t you hand that [power tool] to your brother,” it is shockingly clear how a girl’s creativity can be inhibited in subtle ways. What I liked about this video was how relatable these situations were; it definitely put things into perspective for me. 

 

 

2. The White House – Girls in STEM: A New Generation of Women in Science
In this video, watch all these brilliant young women wow President Obama with their innovations in science and technology. Two young girls who invented a UV-sterilizing lunchbox said, “I never knew I could do that.” I love the diversity portrayed in this video, further emphasizing how anybody can pursue their dreams.  

3. AT&T – Women in STEM Careers
In this commercial, AT&T sends a strong message: “All of you are capable of turning the things you love into the things you do.” This resonates with me because I recently turned my love for computers into something that I know will be related to my career. 

 

 

4. National Academy of Sciences – Women’s Adventures in Science
FableVision created a website for the National Academy of Sciences to teach 8-12 years old girls about STEM. The website showcases the accomplishments of contemporary women scientists with games, interactive comic books, and scrapbooks. It’s only appropriate that I am interning at a company that has already shown their support for #WomenInSTEM.

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