Importance of STEM careers for women and girls

Ranjan K Baruah
Many of us have noticed one important thing that is the absence of women in science or maths or technical stream when it comes to higher education or technical education. We must know that women are typically given smaller research grants than their male colleagues and, while they represent 33.3% of all researchers, only 12% of members of national science academies are women.
At present the popular avenues like machine learning or artificial intelligence have less number of women in comparison with men. In cutting edge fields such as artificial intelligence, only one in five professionals (22%) is a woman. Global data says that despite a shortage of skills in most of the technological fields driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, women still account for only 28% of engineering graduates and 40% of graduates in computer science and informatics.
The irony is female researchers tend to have shorter, less well-paid careers. Their work is underrepresented in high-profile journals and they are often passed over for promotion. We need to generate more awareness amongst girls to take up career choice in the field of science .
We need more women working in the field of science to bring more positive changes in society. Diversity in research expands the pool of talented researchers, bringing in fresh perspectives, talent and creativity. 11th February is observed as the international day of women and girls in science. This Day is a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened.
We should be aware that although Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields are widely regarded as critical to national economies, so far most countries, no matter their level of development, have not achieved gender equality in STEM. A significant gender gap has persisted throughout the years at all levels of STEM.
On 14 March 2011, the Commission on the Status of Women adopted a report at its fifty-fifth session, with agreed conclusions on access and participation of women and girls in education, training and science and technology, and for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work. On 20 December 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on science, technology and innovation for development, in which it recognized that full and equal access to and participation in science, technology and innovation for women and girls of all ages is imperative for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.  Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development. We must encourage young girls to take up courses related to STEM.
Ranjan K Baruah is the Advisor or Skill Employment and Entrepreneurship Department (SEED) of Bodoland Territorial Council and can be reached at 8473943734 or [email protected] for any career related queries)