Women represent only 30% of scientists worldwide. Although there has been progress over the past few decades, only 35% of students in the so-called STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) are women. Similar gender inequalities in STEM careers are present within the EU, where only 41% of all scientists and engineers are women. However, there are big differences between the various European countries: in Lithuania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Portugal and Denmark, more than half of scientists are women, while in Hungary, Luxembourg, Finland and Germany it’s less than a third. How is it that women are still underrepresented in the STEM fields? And why are there such differences between European countries?
The UN has recognised the challenge and declared February 11th International Day of Women and Girls in Science. On this day, events are organised every year with the aim of promoting more women in the STEM subjects. The European Parliament recently presented a new draft report on promoting equality between women and men in science, technology and mathematics. Is enough being done?
What do our readers think? Our reader Pavel sent us a comment quoting the result of a study showing that, regardless of their technical skills, women are less inclined to study STEM subjects. Only 23% of women in the three highest categories of PISA scores chose a STEM subject, compared to 39% of men in the three lowest categories of PISA scores. Why is it that women don’t pursue careers in science as often, despite excellent academic performance?
We put this question to Susana Solís Pérez. She’s a Spanish MEP for the Renew Group and a member of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. She is also the rapporteur for the draft report on promoting equality between women and men in STEM fields. What does Susana Solís Pérez think of Pavel’s question?
Next up, a comment was sent to us by Olga. She believes that there should be more female rolemodels in STEM subjects. She writes: “We need role models! Women that succeeded in their professions, we need to hear their stories. Especially those from underrepresented groups and those that made it their own all the way to the top!”
What does Susana Solís Pérez think of Olga’s proposal?
Next, Gatis argues it is primarily the ambition and drive of individuals which determines how successful they will be in their job. He thinks women who want to pursue a STEM career just have to train and apply themselves, and all doors are open to them. Are there equal opportunities for men and women in STEM companies? How would Susana Solís Pérez respond?
Finally, in the discussion on promoting more women in STEM fields, the idea of quotas keeps coming up. Our reader Louise writes: “In an ideal world quotas should not be necessary, [but] it is a way to force tech companies to hire more women and perhaps change mentalities”. How does Susana Solís Pérez see it?
How can we promote more women in science? Why is it that there are still relatively few women pursuing a STEM career? Do we need more female role models? And would a quota for women make sense? how do you see it? Write us!
Image Credits: Unsplash @thisisengineering