By Maria Kotrotsiou
12 February 2021

This article was written on the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. It is also complementing the dissemination of E-SCHOOL’s EDUCATIONAL GROUP EU project ‘DIGI4EQUALITY’, a project that aims to promote gender EQUALITY in science and technology.

The list of famous math, science and engineering researchers throughout the history is highly male-dominated; Aristotle, Galileo,Newton and many more, in opposition to women who starting entering this list in the late 19th and the early 20th century. Moving forward to computing and information technology, this stereotype continues to exist, given that the most famous innovations in this area were accomplished by males. Subsequently, it is no surprise that people associate STEM fields of work and education with men.

Regardless the significant improvements in the recent years, education is still not equally available for men and women and gender disparities continue to insist. Numerous surveys the past few decades indicate that even though young girls attain equally good grades to men in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, they still turn away, or they are pushed away from STEM fields. This outcome occurs as the result of multitude factors, varying from social, cultural and gender stereotypes, which affect the way children are brought up, the way children are involved in education and the way young women choose their professional career.

Research indicates that the number of women involved in STEM decreases while climbing up the age scale. This means that even If many women find themselves graduating with a STEM degree, the percentage of them completing an MA, a PhD, or a career in this field is importantly decreased.

But the important question we have to ask ourselves here is: ‘Are women treated equally in STEM lessons, and if so, why do they not feel adequate enough to thrive in this career path?’

The answer to this question is rather simple. The gender biases she is endorsed to believe throughout her entire life, play an important role in shaping her attitude towards STEM. These biases may include:

  • Biases related to Social and Cultural Factors (such as early marriage, social and educational patterns there are raised with, the fact that parents treat their daughters and their sons differently etc.)
  • Biases related to the Educational System (lack of role models, non-equal treatment)
  • Phycological reasons such as ‘The Stereotype Threat’ (the anxiety one encounters when being judged contingent on a group-based stereotype).

Since STEM sciences play a crucial role towards the achievement of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is of great importance to include women in this breakthrough. The first step we can take towards the overthrow of this reality is to acknowledge the fact that all of us, without any exception, are affected by gender stereotypes, whether we are conscious about our discriminative actions or not. Subsequently, in order for progress to exist, it requires holistic and integrated approaches.