Gender plays a crucial role in STEM^2. Aristotle considered women naturally subservient to men with mental differences. Despite this, women fought the idea and have made progress in fields like biology and psychology. In contrast, inequality in science is present in some scientific fields. For example, the first computer was invented over 70 years ago, yet men still dominate the computer science field. This occurs through structural inequality. The fields of science and technology needs to promote women.
Structural inequality occurs at an early age. Girls and women receive messages about their ability to succeed within computer science. Men are perceived to be at the forefront of computer science and boys are enticed at an early age to play video and computer games. For instance, as a kid I played on a video console called Gameboy. Just the name of this device sends the message that games on this device should be played by boys and the device was manufactured for boys. In 2014, boys outnumbered girls 4:1 in taking AP computer science exams and no girls took AP computer science exams in Wyoming, Montana, and Mississippi. The percentage of women computer scientists has decreased over time: 37% in 1995, 24% in 2017, and projected to be 22% in 2027. This decrease shows gender inequality within computer science is not improving over time.
So, how can we promote women in computer science? To decrease structural inequality in computer science, we need to convey a new message. Recognizing women in computer science can achieve this. Women role models are essential so girls can change the image of who they see as computer scientists. For example, Anita Borg inspired women in the field of technology. She received a Ph.D. in computer science from the Courant Institute at New York University. She recognized the minimal number of women computer scientists. Then Borg co-founded Systers, an online community open to women in technology to discuss issues and share resources in their field. So girls can succeed in computer science they need to look to computer scientists like Anita Borg.
Society should also create opportunities for girls in computer science. Girls Who Code is a prominent organization that promotes girls and women to explore the field of computer science. The goal of this non-profit organization is to close the gender gap in technology. Girls Who Code achieves this goal through building a community of mentors and mentees, showing different career pathways, and bringing summer programs and clubs to different schools across the country. Organizations similar to Girls Who Code change impressions of what a computer scientist looks like.
We have the power to change the perception of gender in science to promote equality. Women have the same capabilities as men. Aristotle’s idea of women and the lack of promotion of women in STEM^2 is a problem. The perception of STEM^2 fields should not dissuade women. To better understand and study components of Science, Technology, and Society such as computer science, student’s need to recognize the inequalities within the field for women. By recognizing productive organizations and women in computer science, we can promote women in computer science and other STEM^2 fields that lack women involvement.
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