@Issue: Women in Science & Technology
In some scientific and technology fields, men outnumber women as much as 7 to 1. The lack of diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields contributes to the earnings gap between men and women in America. It also contributes to higher rates of poverty amongst single mothers who earn less in other fields than they would in STEM related careers. Our young girls lack role models in STEM industries as well as encouragement from society in general to participate in STEM careers.
Program, Research, Discover, Lead #LikeAGirl
Women provide perspective to a workplace dominated by male personalities. No one sex is superior to the other especially when it comes to the ability to design, develop, innovate, research, etc. and these are essential traits of individuals in STEM fields. Our nation needs more women in technology professions like programming, engineering, information security, and management disciplines. Research is also dramatically lacking in gender diversity, which hurts our ability overall to innovate and develop breakthrough solutions.
There have been numerous attempts at explaining why there is such a massive gender gap between men and women in STEM fields. Explanations include biology (which is nonsense), a lack of interest in school-age children, the “leaky pipeline” excuse, and general stereotypes, amongst others. We believe the only reason why the gap exists is that society and our schools have yet to support a different model. This is why we support organizations like Lean In (http://leanin.org). Inclusion needs to be more status quo than it is today, and the lack of gender diversity in STEM fields is proof of this fact.
Girls are not encouraged to become programmers; they’re told to become housewives. They’re not pushed to become neurosurgeons; they’re told to go into nursing. You do not see commercials enticing young women to go to school to be physicists, but it is nearly impossible to miss ads promoting beauty schools and vocational nursing programs. For the gender gap to disappear, society has to change its ideas on women’s true place in our American society – which is in lock-step with men, not behind them.
For the young girl interested in the sciences, mathematics, or technology there are many hurdles to overcome. The Franklin Foundation will work to remove as many of these as we can – with the help of a few good organizations and people along the way.
So here’s what we’re going to do about it:
1Fund the WiSci and WiTech Programs to get more school-aged girls interested in STEM careers. Our programs are more about immersion and access than just getting girls to show up. By immersing girls in fields where they see their own peers thriving, we give them a shot at dreaming to be an engineer or a chemist or a programmer, or a physicist.
2Partner with organizations that clearly “get it”. We are proud to partner with American companies and non-profit organizations that understand the importance of diversity, and work to ensure everyone is included no matter what their gender, race, socioeconomic background, or identity is.
3Fund projects that are dedicated to ensuring girls have access in key fields like computer programming, cybersecurity, mechanical engineering, advanced mathematics, astrophysics, civil engineering, or chemical engineering, to name a few.
4Lead in areas of research around improving engagement models for women to enter “non-traditional” careers in STEM disciplines. A major prerequsite to fixing a problem, is fully understanding its nuances and causes.