Aditi Patil | How to Increase Gender Representation in STEM
A new study by female geoscientists
and engineers looks deeper into the
problem and offers solutions on closing
the gap. Women are interested in the
STEM field; women make up 53
percent of science undergraduate and
masters students around the world and
43 percent of Ph.D. candidates.
However, the further up in the field
you progress, the number of women
decreases. In 2013, women made up
just 23 percent of tenured science
academics and 13 percent of
professors in Europe.
The research also surveyed over 300 people in the field. The
results showed chronic underrepresentation in areas such as
journal publications, prestigious jobs at universities and
scientific committees. The women in the field reported feelings
of not being taken seriously, gender stereotyping, lack of
female role models in the field, and exclusion from social
While the results are bleak, they aren’t exactly surprising.
However, the researchers developed a seven-step plan to
increase gender representation in the field. The plan doesn’t
just apply to women, it takes into account the influence of
men, and can be used in other disciplines with gender
02 Promote high-achieving females
STEPS TO IMPROVING
05 Get better support for women returning to work
06 Redefine success
07 Encourage women to enter the field at a young age
04 Speak up
03 Create awareness of gender bias
01 Advocate for more women in prestigious roles
WHY SPEAK OUT?
The researchers stress the
importance of everyone
speak out when they
witness gender bias occur. If
only the marginalized
groups speak out, it has less
of an effect than when men
in the field voice their
concerns about the
Why is support so important?
Support for young girls and women entering the field is crucial. While many
women have the skill and passion for the field, they often lack the mentorship
needed to keep them pushing forward. Girls interested in the field should have
more opportunities to practice their skills and connect with others who share the
same interests, as women are more likely to stay in STEM PhD programs when
there are more women enrolled in the program.
The steps focus around promoting the visibility of
women already in the field and their successes.
Representation matters, and even in TV shows and
movies, men in STEM roles outnumber
women nearly 2 to 1. When young girls see only
men in those types of positions, they assume that
those types of careers aren’t attainable to them.
They’re discouraged before they even start.
By increasing the representation and
support for women in STEM, it will
help to close the gender gap and
encourage more women to pursue
careers in the field.