2018 Women in Engineering Empowerment Essay – Allison Yao

I’m an electrical engineering student and the women I meet in my field are some of the most intelligent and amazing people I’ve met. The gender gap in STEM fields is a huge problem, but if we start changing the way we think, we’d get even more amazing women working in these fields.

I believe making conscious efforts to tip the scale for equal representation for men and women in STEM fields is a very important cause. The unconscious gender bias in STEM fields is present even now and nothing will change unless both men and women take action. This means introducing females to technology from young ages and encouraging them that STEM fields are for everyone. Whether it be seen in media or day to day life, teach kids that gender does not restrict to them to a certain destiny. Having strong male and female figures when children are growing up is an important aspect of ridding biases as well.

I think a large part of the push to improve representation of women in STEM fields is also increasing awareness and knowledge from a young age. I, myself, never really understood how diverse even just the field of engineering is. The amount of careers that are available with an engineering degree is extraordinary. Teach young kids that if you have a problem you want to solve or even a hobby, likely there’s a STEM field that would be a perfect. When someone invokes the word “engineer”, the idea that firsts pops into a lot of people’s minds usually has to do with bridges and maybe a hard hat or two – I can’t say I was immune to this. I never really knew any engineers and I never really thought about it until high school came around. The reality is that engineers can work with computers, medical devices, power systems, chemicals and more. And, the more I learned as I get older, the more excited I get to apply my knowledge to real world problems. 

With any big change in society, potential obstacles will be those who are still stuck in the mindset that women are not meant for STEM fields. Furthermore, there’s the unconscious biases in hiring managers who might choose a man over a woman, even just based on a name! All companies should implement hiring standards that prevent this from happening and have conversation and training to deal with this type of problem.

In order to be successful in making a difference, every generation needs to start actively overcoming unconscious bias and starting conversations. The future will reshape itself when we see equal numbers of men and women in STEM majors in school, equal numbers in the STEM industry and to be honest equal representation in everything. Why should a career or job be connected to a gender anyways? Knowing that change can happen and that representation of women has been increasing, with a little push, females in STEM fields could make a huge impact on the world.