Changing sySTEMic inequality in the Arts and Technologies

08 November 2019

Today, 8th November, is National STEM/STEAM Day. Founded by MGA Entertainment [1], STEM Day aims to inspire students to pursue the Sciences, Technologies, Engineering, Arts and Maths fields.


It has been found that globally women are less likely to enter and more likely to leave STEM careers than me[2]. Research also shows that women are less likely to be hired for STEM jobs, as well as promoted, remunerated and professionally recognised in every respect of academic life.


"Women, in particular, are vastly underrepresented in STEM, and their absence in those jobs is bringing down the earning averages of women overall. Sparking interest in S.T.E.A.M. among girls is critical to their future earning potential." said Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment [3].


It is undeniable that there is a systematic inequality between men and women. Universally, women are under-represented in regards to decision making and access to opportunities and resources, a key resource being education.


Equal Measures 2030 [4] found that overall, higher-income countries rank as having greater gender equality than lower-income countries, yet the Index finds that some countries have lower gender equality scores than their countries’ income levels might predict, such as Switzerland, Turkey and the US.


Interestingly, studies have shown that countries with traditionally less gender equality actually have more women in science and technology than countries with higher gender equality scores. According to a report by Medium [5], only 27% of participants taking the AP Computer Science exam in the United States are female. Meanwhile, in Algeria, 41% of college graduates in STEM are female. 


What about other marginalised groups in STEM?


Unfortunately there is even less representation of LQBT+ in STEM jobs. Research indicates more than 40 percent of LGBTQ people in STEM are not out [6]. One-third of out American physicists have been told to stay in the closet to continue their career. Half of transgender or gender non-conforming physicists were harassed in academia [7]. Overall, gay and bisexual students are less likely to follow an academic career [8].


What is being done to increase broaden the variety of people in STEM?


Project Mc2 [1] - The franchise created by MGAE features four intelligent girls that are part of a secret spy organisation called NOV8 (pronounced "innovate"), hence the selection of November 8th as National S.T.E.M./S.T.E.A.M. Day. A Netflix original series of the same name helps to bring S.T.E.M./S.T.E.A.M concepts to life, providing a strong outlet for kids to experience science, technology, engineering, art and math in a fun and age-appropriate way.


Barefoot College [9] - They train women as solar engineers, innovators and educators, giving them the tools to transform lives in their villages. Their remote night schools also give girls working to support their families the opportunity to learn and break out of the cycle of poverty.


Little Adventures [9] - Using Sesame Street’s furry, funny muppets Abby and Lola, it shows girls that science and maths are fun, exciting subjects accessible to everyone. Share these stories of organisations doing amazing things to advance girls’ education in STEM using the hashtags #GirlsCrackTheCode and #BrightGirls.


Pride in STEM [10] - An organisation who run their own LGBTSTEM Day on 5th July and were even nominated for the Gay Time Honours in 2017. They deliver many events and activities throughout the year at queer bars, museums, universities and research institutions. Share the love for LGBT+ in STEM using the hashtags #LGBTSTEMDay #LGBTQSTEMDay #LGBTQIASTEMDay.

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