Women make up half of the United States population, but only make up about a third of STEM jobs. Women in STEM are only paid 89 cents per every dollar paid to their male counterparts. In addition to this, women only make up 28 percent of the total AP CSA classes’ enrollment at Berkeley High, demonstrating how significantly underrepresented they are. This leads to many women straying away from the field of STEM. In order to increase the number of women in STEM, we must create equal opportunities while closing the wage gap.
In the past couple of years, more and more women have been joining the STEM workforce, and one of the major causes of this is the opening of numerous women-only STEM programs, opportunities, and scholarships. An example of this is UC Berkeley’s Expand your Horizons program, in which fifth to eighth-grade girls get introduced to STEM. The Expand Your Horizons program was created to increase gender diversity in STEM by sparking an interest in girls. As the world becomes more and more dependent on STEM, a greater number of jobs will be created, and the Expand Your Horizons program believes that teaching girls about STEM early will inspire them to take these jobs, which will close the overall gap between the number of jobs given to women and men. Programs like Expand Your Horizons inspire young women to explore STEM in a safe and supportive environment, and if more programs and camps that have similar intentions get created, then much higher numbers of women will want to go into STEM-based careers.
Berkeley High has made a very strong effort to increase women’s representation in STEM. There are currently several women empowerment clubs at Berkeley High, such as the BHS Steminist Club. The BHS Steminist club brings in guest speakers from NASA, UCSF, and more to present about their lives and occupations. This club allows anyone to directly learn from women that already have careers in STEM. These women show others that it is possible to succeed in STEM as a woman, and give many women interested in STEM female role models to look up to. If more clubs similar to the BHS Steminist club are created, then countless more women will be inspired to join the STEM workforce.
Although society has strived to become a safe and equal place, there is still a long way to go until we truly achieve equality, and increasing the representation of women in STEM is a step in the right direction. Increasing representation will inspire change and serve as proof that women can pursue any career that they want, with absolutely no negative consequences. We owe many of society’s great discoveries to women, such as the discovery of the double helix formation of DNA which was discovered by Rosalind Franklin, Vera Rubin’s discovery of dark matter, Jennifer Doudna’s discovery, or development, of the molecular tool CRISPR, and so many more. If more women join the field of STEM, then these amazing discoveries will keep on coming and everyone will be benefitted.