Encouraging gender diversity in STEM could lead to major breakthroughs for society.
Currently in Australia boys outnumber girls 2 to 1 in the study of science at study*. As you’d expect, these statistics do not translate very well into the workplace where only 16% of Australians in STEM careers are women.
Why is this lack of gender diversity negative?
Londa Schienbinger a professor of gender studies at the University of Stanford sums it up nicely “women tend to ask different questions and take different approaches to science” a factor that has led to her identifying 29 case studies so far that exemplify how gender analysis has led to new breakthroughs.
Why are women still not equally represented in science based careers?
Londa identifies three areas that need attention: need initiatives to increase women’s participation, fix the institutions and fix the knowledge or myths surrounding women currently.
So what is being done to fix this gender diversity issue?
Governing bodies around the world are identifying the importance of gender diversity and actively implementing policies to encourage more women into STEM careers. The European Union (EU) is currently establishing 137 areas of research in science and technology that would benefit from gender based analysis.
Policies have been executed in the Republic of Korea and Japan too. In Australia the ASX Corporate Governance Council has applied policy that has seen a 17.9% increase in the amount of women on ASX listed company boards.
The statistics also show that this is a highly beneficial strategy for companies to use as gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform less diverse companies.
The focus must now shift to empowering women of the future to gain new skills and interests in STEM as The Australian estimates that 75% of Australia's future jobs will be in this sector. For the future generation, there are innovative new programs and activities popping up all over Australia and are great ways to get exposure to STEM without the pressure of studying.
Dreamcity Melbourne is a career play theme-park opening in Melbourne in 2019 with plans to expand across Australia and New Zealand.
Encouraging your daughters, nieces and granddaughters with fun STEM-based activities is a great way to increase their confidence and bridge the gap.
*Statistics sourced from a recent podcast by the University of Melbourne which you can listen to here: https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/podcasts/how-does-gender-diversity-improve-science