Why are there fewer women in STEM education and careers?

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Females make up almost 60% of the overall college student body.

Taking away the popular field of biological clinical science, the percentage of female students in STEM drops to 34%.

To encourage more females to major in STEM, Ozarks Technical Community College was awarded a $25,000 grant to fund scholarships for female students pursuing a STEM major.

This Coca-cola Foundation Women in STEM Scholarship will give 25 students a $1,000 scholarship for the 2021 academic year.

“Science, technology, engineering, and math, these are the four academic disciplines that make up STEM,” said Priscilla Wang, a software engineer.

“I have always been a really creative kid,” said Wang. She didn’t discover what career she wanted to pursue until college. “I learned about engineering, and I realized, hey, I actually get to put my thoughts into building stuff, and at the same time, I’m solving a problem, and also making a stable income,” said Wang.

The STEM industry isn’t currently a popular choice for women.

According to the American Association of University Women, females make up about half the workforce, but only 28% of them are in stem careers.

“Most of my peers were men,” said Wang.

“Sometimes there’s been some discouragement for women going into math,” said Dana Sherman, physical sciences department chair at Ozarks Technical Community College.

“Seeing more women who can do science, can do math, and choose to do it, will help give them the proper mentors,” said Sherman.

And inspiration goes a long way.

Hannah Smith is currently a student at Ozarks Technical Community College.

“I kind of grew up hearing like, a lot a lot of the women around me say, oh, I’m not good at math, that’s a guy thing,” said Smith. “Women do science, women do math. And it kind of puts in perspective of oh hey, if she can do this, then I can do it too.”

“I went to a smaller school, the science teacher taught all the sciences. And she was female, she’s very very tough,” said Sherman. So that’s why I decided to major in science,” Sherman said.

“One of the things I do for fun, is I compete in pageants and a huge part of competing in pageants is talking about what you care about,” said Wang. “And for me, it is bringing more diversity into the stem field. Inspiring a younger generation of girls, letting them know that you know there are going to be mentors like me and other women who are rooting for you.”

Breaking these barriers can bring creativity the industry’s never seen before.
“Men are not born being good at calculus. Women are not born being bad at calculus,” said Sherman. “We all bring a different perspective in how a problem could be solved.”

“The kind of problems that women face might be different from what men face,” said Wang. “And so how exactly can you solve these problems without having engineers that can empathize? And can understand what our users face?”

Studying stem opens up a world of opportunities.

“So if you want to see the world, if you want to apply your knowledge in different kinds of industries, I definitely recommend that you go into a stem education,” said Wang.

Here are the specific programs of study in STEM at Ozarks Technical Community College:

The application for this scholarship opens Monday, March 1. Click here to apply.

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