Push for more women in STEM

BLACKSBURG, Va., March. 4—WORK SPACE: Fralin Hall is one of the Life Science Institute buildings at Virginia Tech where biology research labs can be found.

by Ayveri Lane–

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) have always been important fields in the world. Professionals in this field provide us with everyday needs. But, there have not been nearly enough women involved with STEM.

According to National Girls Collaborative Project website, women only makeup 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce. While women are interested in sciences, they often shy away from STEM fields.

Virginia Tech Assistant Professor of Paleo Biology Michelle Stocker sees the underrepresentation of women.

“Science in general needs more women. In life sciences there tends to be more students and faculty, but physical sciences are behind that,” said Stocker.

While there is an underrepresentation in higher job fields, Stocker believes at the undergraduate there is a more level playing field.

Recent graduate from the College of Science, Taylor Adams, can attest to this.

“When I graduated, I feel like there was a good mix between males and females in the graduating class, and it did a lot to disprove the stigma that males dominate in the STEM fields,” said Adams.

In order to encourage women to become involved with sciences, it has started to be introduced in the classroom. It allows girls to explore areas of research they may otherwise be turned away from.

According to STEM Revolution, a flipped classroom, in which students learn hands-on and in teams, cultivates the best environment.

Outside of the classroom, media has also attempted to be more gender inclusive. Adams, has noticed this in show’s such as Grey’s Anatomy.

“It portrays women in a very positive light in the medical field. I think stuff like that really shows how media is pushing forward women in the STEM fields,” said Adams.

Adams also believes kids shows such as Magic School Bus, which have a female teacher in charge, help to end the male dominated stigma.

While there have many strides to make STEM more accessible, Stocker believes there is still room for improvement.

“You have to step out of [your bubble] and see what the public as a whole is exposed to. There is still a lot of gendered clothing and portrayals,” said Stocker.

As the public becomes more aware, STEM will become a more gender inclusive environment where women can feel comfortable thriving.

Michelle Stocker, Assistant Professor of Paleo Biology 
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