International Women’s Day and the need for equity in STEM
We have just celebrated International Women’s Day, and would like to take the opportunity to discuss the challenges still faced by women in STEM, and how we are doing our part to tackle them!
International Women’s day is an annual global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, and one that we always celebrate here at DataEthics4All Foundation.
The day aims to bring to everyone’s attention to certain issues prevalent to women’s rights such as gender equality, reproductive rights and violence or abuse against women.
This year, the theme for international women’s day is #EmbraceEquity, and the importance of striving for equity rather than equality for women in society.
To quote the IWD’s own page, “…equal opportunities aren’t enough: People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.”
Equality and equity are words that are often used interchangeably but such use can in fact be counterproductive. Whilst equality means an equal distribution of opportunity and resources, equity takes into consideration the fact that we are not all the same, and do not have the same needs, and recognises that resource and opportunity distribution need to be configured according to our individual circumstances.
At DataEthics4All Foundation, one of our foundational goals is equity in STEM for everybody, and we are proud to be supporting the international women’s day theme of embracing equity by making STEM more accessible for women everywhere with our STEAM in AI Program.
Although we have made progress in recent decades, there are still many issues for women in STEM, including underrepresentation, gender bias and unequal pay.
In terms of gender bias, STEM fields are generically viewed as more ‘masculine’ areas of work, a view that stemmed from historical sexism and the fact that, at one point in time, women wouldn’t have been allowed to work in STEM, meaning that it was objectively male dominated.
This does not mean that it should be or has to be male dominated, rather that we need to put an end to the cycle of girls not being encouraged to pursue STEM early on in their education to halt the reinforcement of this idea and its effects on children’s career ambitions.
Women also face issues such as a remarkably lower average wage than men working in the same field.
Roughly, men working in STEM tend to have around a 40% higher salary than women in STEM, and this disparity increases when you look at the wage gap between white males and Black and Hispanic women.
Whilst we alone cannot end gender bias in STEM, we are hoping to do all we can to eradicate some of the roadblocks facing women and girls who are hoping to enter the world of STEM to ensure that, no matter their background, race or ability, they have the opportunity to pursue the career of their choice with confidence.
One way in which we are doing this is with our STEAMinAI program.
This program partners high school students with a mentor who is either a professional or PhD student working in STEAM who will guide them through a research project or a project to build an application or website in a wide range of fields.
We hope that this program can contribute to building a more equitable playing field for every high school student, and if it sounds like something you or someone you know would be interested in, then head over to steaminai.org to find out more!