In order for the representation of women in STEM fields to improve, we have to focus on accomplishments made by women. Women are recognized for simply being women. A women in a STEM major first has to break through the barrier of being noticed as a women and then make her accomplishments. What if we looked at a woman in the STEM field and did not point out her gender but rather her accomplishments?
I sit down in my fifth grade class to learn about people in STEM fields. “Today we are learning about Marie Curie, a female scientist,” says my teacher. You may find nothing wrong with this sentence, it is grammatically correct. Now compare it to the next day when the class sits down and the teacher says, “Today we are going to learn about Thomas Edison, an inventor.” Do you see the problem? Marie Curie is a “female scientist” but Thomas Edison is an “inventor.” Why is he not referred to as a male inventor? To be treated equally we have to refer to ourselves in the same way. Marie Curie was a scientist and Thomas Edison was an inventor.
I sit down in my Physician’s office as a sophomore in high school and we talk about my struggles in math. He says, “That’s typical of girls your age.” That made me grit my teeth. It wasn’t just my doctor that made me mad, it was the teacher’s that expected females to start degrading in their knowledge of math, it was the parents that responded to failure with, “Math’s hard,” and myself for letting the mindset of society corrupt my own.
I am an engineer. I am not a female engineer. I am an engineer that happens to be female. By announcing that I am a female I am creating a barrier for myself to break before I even start working towards accomplishments. This barrier includes the gender gap, society as a whole is recognizing that I am a female and therefore paying me less. In order to avoid creating that barrier women must put their heads down like every other unrecognized person in STEM fields, and keep it down until they accomplish something. Be proud of their accomplishments, be recognized for their accomplishments, not recognized for being a female.