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Girl Fight: Why girls say no to STEM jobs?

I remember going to school and feeling like something was wrong with me because I was good at mathematics. Especially, since nearly every teacher felt the need to re-iterate how girls were not as good at mathematics as boys based on what ever random statistics at the time.
 
However, I excelled and kept going. I got a degree in mathematics. So, what made me different from all the other girls that got discouraged. Natural ability for mathematics; however, when I reflect that's not the whole story. As I went to college, there were other girls that were great at mathematics, but once again got discouraged. So, what made go on to pursue degrees is Computer Science, Mathematics, and Computer Engineering.
 
I got the same discouraging information as everyone else, but I kept going. Why? 
1) "Fighter" Personality
My personality is such that when someone tells me that I can not do something, then I wanted to fight that much harder to prove them wrong.
2) I Had A Reason To Love It!
I loved mathematics because it was a completely objective subject and no one could say I failed or did it wrong simply because they did not like me.
 
The question I asked myself does every girl that goes into mathematics or science have to have a "Fighter" personality just to want to strive for jobs in the sciences. Unfortunately, yes.
 
The reason being is that as a society we have discouraged girls and told them they are less than at every turn so often that these are the only women really pushing through to the end.
 
The jobs in these field are no more demanding than any other office job or job in business. But we are told from the start to finish we can't do it, then beat over the head with over and over again through out every step of the way.  Even after entering the IT industry, I still have to fight. These jobs are not as hard as they are made out to be; however, the treatment and the persistent misogyny has even the woman that fought the good fight leaving the IT. However, girls should not have to be "Rambo" just to be software developer. 
 
If we are going to get more girls in IT, then we need to stop brain-washing ourselves and men into thinking that we are not capable for these jobs. These jobs can easily be tailored to accommodate women's busy lives. 
 
How do we change it? We prevent teachers from doing negative reinforcement which teaches boys to believe that girls aren't capable and introduce technology skills at early age so its as natural as reading, writing,and arithmetic. The world of technology demands and needs more skilled labors and to make the transformation it needs to be natural.
 
 

Comments

I completely agree, however, I would also like to point out that one other solution is to change the way math and sciences is taught in school.
It has been scientifically proven that the majority of males learn different ways than then majority of females. This is because the female brain (Gross generalization) can spot patterns easier than the male brain (Gross generalization). Also, males generally tend to learn better with interactive methods (blocks, games, etc.), and females tend to favor the verbal and visual learning styles (logic puzzles, pattern recognition, etc.). It is also because the male brain learns easier by putting pieces together to get a whole, and the female brain learns easier by seeing what makes the whole then fitting each piece in it's place and then piecing those pieces together until it makes sense.
 
Confused? Think of it as a puzzle:
1. Males (Generalization) will usually look at the individual piece and try to find it's specific place in the whole before moving on
2. Females (Generalization) will usually look at the picture and be able to put different sections together and then connect those individual sections together later
 
Another way to explain it:
1. males (Generalization) can look at a clock and see that all the wheels and spokes and things make the clock work.
2. females (Generalization) can look at a clock and see how all the wheels and spokes and things make the clock work.
 
Males can learn both the 1st and the 2nd way and be just as successful, however, it is harder for females to learn the 1st way. Therefore, if we change the way teachers in schools teach, then I bet that ratio of males and females succeeding in these subjects will stabilize and even out.
 
What are your thoughts?
I think that this is a solid strategy. The one size fits all approach in the education system has done no favors for neither women or men.
Honestly, as a woman who tutors math and science, I chose to raise a family instead of going into engineering or the like, which would require more time away from my loved ones than I can spare right now.  Once you have a husband and a baby, your priorities in life change.  I sure do have the potential to complete an engineering program, or a computer science one or whatever, but I am more than just a brain, and finances are not limitless.  Life requires more of women on the home front than men, in general.  My son is on the autism spectrum and has special needs.  I choose my family before my career.
 
That said, I do plan to pursue a masters degree in education in the near future, probably when my son goes to kindergarten.  I believe that teaching fits my abilities, my personality, and the needs of my family better than any career in the pure sciences or applied mathematics at this time.
 
Perhaps my life story could shed some light on why women don't flock to STEM careers as much as men do.
 

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Laura J.

Triple Majored - CS/Math/Computer Engineering Industry Experience

300+ hours
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