Although the society has always been trying to balance the number of male and female in the STEM fields, gender segregation is still a big issue. Promoting gender-balance is not only for bringing feminine perspectives to the engineering problems but also for the fairness in this society. As far as I concerned, there are several implements that can be made to facilitate resolving this situation.
First of all, cultivating children’s curiosity about science is crucial for improving the representation of women in the STEM fields. Some parents, especially in Asian countries, tend to buy girls only dolls and stuffed animals instead of Legos and model cars. If the girls have only been exposed to the “girlish toys”, it would be harder to cultivate their interests in science later in their lives. Thus, the guidance from parents plays a pivot role in enlightening the girls with science.
Apart from playing games with the kids at home, parents can also take them to museums and science fairs. There are numerous science museums specifically for kids. The simple explanations of theories and interactive games help the children to gain knowledge and raise interests simultaneously. So do the science fairs. I was involved in such events, including engineering exhibition and outreach activities, during college years. By demonstrating interesting scientific experiments, professors and students aimed to inspire the young generation to learn about the amazing science in our daily lives. It will be beneficial to have more similar events organized and more people participated to share their knowledge with the public, especially the children.
Reducing obstacles for female entering the industry is also important. When I was interned as a mechanical engineer, I noticed that there still existed “discrimination” against women engineers. Some male engineers hold the view that women are not as good as men when dealing with technical issues. They usually make the assumption that basic explanations about work is necessary for women, without asking for their background and past experience in the first place. One thing that can be done to improve this situation is raising the awareness among all the engineers that women have the capability to succeed in the fields of technology and science. Creating a better and trusting work environment is helpful in attracting more female engineers to pursue the STEM career. To implement this idea into the industries, there can be more workshops about the benefits of women in this fields offered to the employees.
From my perspective, there are mainly two ways to improve the female representation: cultivating girls’ interests and creating better career environment for women. Certainly, these implementations will encounter challenges. For parents, many are usually busy with work; as for the industries, such change may not bring benefits right away but requires labor, investment, and time. However, it would still be meaningful and inspiring that the parents, the college students, and the companies all work together to encourage more women joining the STEM fields.