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



15 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Γεώργιος

    Can we promote more talent in science without gender distinctions?

    • avatar
      Gerhard

      Γεώργιος Not sure why you use the plurales maiestatis on yourself, but of course you can. :)

    • avatar
      Γεώργιος

      To promote women in any field is sexist behaviour

  2. avatar
    Ava Calero

    i would say to make it more approchable, when most of science is mentioned its mostly male orientated and focused on boys mainly at school age, i’ve seen it in all my levels of school where STEM was advertised mainly to boys and girls just got ignored or sidelined in these presentation on why you should take STEM and science.

  3. avatar
    catherine benning

    How can we promote more ‘women’ in science?

    From a person living outside the political spectrum it appears this question indicates you have completely lost any sense of reality. Power madness comes to mind.

    What do you mean, promote more women in science? Have you been holding women back from scientific promotion so far then?

    Why not do the sane thing and simply promote more scientist in science. Does it matter what gender they happen to be if they have the required talent?Temperament and ability for the work involved is paramount. The excitement at prospects of finding radium, for example, should be all that is needed. Not what the person has between their legs being a requisite.

    If you follow this strange way of thinking you appear to believe, the right individuals who have an amazing gift of mind who are capable, willing and driven to expand on the thought needed to move us to the next level in science will be left by the wayside. And people without capability will be foisted onto the few who are geniuses in their own right. Burdening the brilliant with a political ideology set up to prove a non inexistent reality is the practice of deranged thinking. What on earth does it matter if the scientist is male or female? It only matters they have what is needed intellectually to advance mankind in the tasks they are set.

    If a Martian landed on this planet and found their way to our political internet chat forums and read much of the madness one man puts to another on here, they would seriously have to consider our ability to evolve to a level that could be of greatest benefit to our species.

  4. avatar
    EU Reform Proactive

    My first reaction is: Why is “promotion needed”? Does somebody impede their desires? Are women still second-class EU citizens or EU oppressed in the eyes of the EU Commission?

    If the EU is behind this “promotion” drive, please EU, be so kind and explain first.

    In the meantime, I admittedly have to speculate- which I dislike:

    • Who gave the EU that legal mandate?
    * The Treaties?
    • The HR Commission?
    • Is it a job creation drive?
    • Are we dealing with Friends of Europe’s own imaginations & promotion?
    • Are we encounter EU/DE “Yellow Journalism”?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism

    Surely, many females will gladly shine more light behind such EU political drive?

    Equally:

    Who promotes EU males?
    Who promotes the EU?
    Who promotes what?

    Hasn’t everyone a free choice to do whatever- in a free EU?
    Who prevents anybody to choose to either become a tramp or scientist in the free EU?
    Aren’t parents still an important guide & have some say in a free EU?

    Or is somebody promoting an economy- accidentally- by directing from the top?
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/communism

    • avatar
      Moses Mativo

      nice comment

    • avatar
      EU Reform Proactive

      Jambo- Asante!
      Sorry, but that concludes my Swahili, picked up on some past travels. Ordinary folks are so uninhibitedly friendly & uncomplicated in your part of the world- a real pleasure- compared to most of us more reserved Europeans.

      A pity that African politics & their many corrupt & mischievous leaders are troubled finding their way to govern honestly in a true & benevolent African spirit. Instead, they display an assortment of modern political charades! Awful!

      Why try & copy a “colonial” conceived concept like the EU called AU (or the USA) to ensnare the whole of Africa? I doubt that many heads of states & radicals (like the EFF & BLF in SA) have the imagination of how much must change in Africa to make such a concept viable & workable? They rather risk destruction first before coming to their senses. The cold war introduced Marxism which is still a slumbering time bomb & inhibition to real progress!

      Many in the EU are still unsure if the wisdom that such planned but extreme political trajectory is worth the unsettling pain, paying enough dividends, or if such experiment is ever fully achievable & implementable. It is no secret that Africa falls far short whenever it comes to implementation. Pole- pole.

  5. avatar
    Gerhard

    By allowing gaps in the CV. If women have to chose between science and a child a majority will, sooner or later, pick the child.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @ Gerhard

      Yes, as it is their natural sense of fulfilment to do so. Maternal instinct is a gift not a curse. A mother requires her sense of soul connection to her child to take her to a higher level of internal psychological fulfilment. This nourishes her child’s sense of self as she does so. It is torturous to womanhood to pretend this human condition does not exist. Forcing women to fake masculine satisfaction is a sick mindset to run with. And leads to untreatable mental illness when imposed as mandatory they way it today.

      The question is why? What are they wanting to prove?

  6. avatar
    Natasha

    Women in science do pretty well without extra promotion, thank you very much.

  7. avatar
    Stefanos

    One more discriminatory debate and I m off…

  8. avatar
    EU Reform Proactive

    I fail to notice the expected flood of women commenting to agree with the EU/Friends of Europe/DE’s narrative for not being “sufficiently promoted” in the predominantly EU-controlled political sphere. Or is such a flood still to come?

    If not- it can only be the authors’ agenda to promote such narrative- without giving us serious reasons, except some opinion-based journalism.

    So- why not have a look, observe & compare the freedoms or restrictions of women as they advanced through centuries of western civilization?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_science

    The list is not short of substantial & amazing contributions by women to science over time. How could that happen? Even without the existence of an EU/FoE?

    Why must anything & everything be politically promoted nowadays?

    Can “Crowdocracy” offer a better & less biased way forward?

    http://www.crowd.ngo/

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @ EU Reform Proactive

      The flood is of despair in both genders. Women having the enormous burden placed on them by so called ‘feminism.’ Similar to the ‘feminism’ placed on third world women in their country of origin and now here. Where the male simply sees himself as a show horse. Beautiful and needed only in the role of warrior and breeder, whist their women fight in daily life for financial well being and that of their children. They, having been placed culturally in the dual role of ‘carer and provider’ for the family. European culture historically asked the male to protect, defend and provide for the family unit. Not any more and now, as a result, we see our society fumble, lurching painfully from one weak notion to another.

      Political stalwarts, who despise natures role for women, having reduced the male to an unused, unfulfilled, hugely exploited entity trying desperately to raise his head with pride, whist feeling abandoned in his purpose for being.

    • avatar
      EU Reform Proactive

      Hi Catherine,

      I sadly acknowledge your sentiment which I painfully share. This dual role of ‘career and provider’ for the modern family is like a two-pronged zombie knife. It can defend & advance but is so deadly that it was banned in GB in 2016- correct?

      This politically driven- never-ending promotion agenda- has probably one major- but designed- (side) effect: the reduction of births in Europe below equilibrium & globally (‘women emancipation). Despite the huge unemployment of the youth & man folks in the EU.

      By openly ‘welcoming’ illegal immigration & alliens while internally portraying legalities based on the rule of (EU) law’- exposes a disappointedly 1st class EU hypocrisy.

      Dual earnings have progressively become a necessity to start a family, then survive, raise & accommodate themselves since the ~1970s.

      Rising living standards, greater expectations, the numerous advances in many sectors- coupled with globalism, the un-proportional change of the earnings ratio between ‘normal employees’, the corporate & even political leadership has become disproportionally high- exposing their lust for their unsustainable greed- while they preach the opposite!

      https://www.payscale.com/data-packages/ceo-pay

      However, this shift had/has a too-small impact in overpopulated regions where abject poverty reigns supreme. The designers & planners remain an anonymous elite who off-shore & nurture their immoral tax-havens.

      The metaphor that the invisible hand rules but strikes whenever their agenda is questioned, criticized & doubted, rings true!

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