5 Ways Our Society Sabotages Girls' Interests In Science

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or have been out of touch since… well, forever, then you are probably aware how the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (now called STEM) are all mostly dominated by males. But it’s not that these industries are mostly male-dominated, rather it’s the fact that our society places women lower than their male counterparts.

It’s disturbing, however, how even in the year 2019, these specific industries have pushed women to become minorities, despite them contributing a lot to the different fields throughout history. In particular, cultural perceptions and stereotypes are pushing aspiring girls from starting a career in science, math, engineering and related fields.

To understand the bigger picture, here are five ways that show how the society discourages girls from taking an interest in science and math:

1. Lack of mentors. This is one of the main problems in the industry. Because minority scientists (like women) are so few, so are the number of potential mentors for any future ones. As a result, the number of women in the field has remained flat for decades.

2. Having to prove something. This is a societal structure that, thankfully, is being addressed more in media. In the movie “Captain Marvel” for instance, the character Carol Danvers has to continuously prove that she’s deserving of her powers to her mentor, when the fact that she’s gotten so far is already enough to prove this. This is the same for women in the science and math fields, where, instead of focusing on the real work, they are often pushed to prove themselves, despite being already there.

3. The idea of a self-fulfilling prophecy. This imagery can also happen in men, although it’s more common in women. The idea is that minorities and women are more likely to fail in these fields, so why even try in the first place? This is devastating for young women’s minds, especially when science and math are built around the idea of making mistakes and learning from them.

4. STEM’s value. Although not as obvious as the other problems, this is still important, for it can affect a lot of people, especially women. Basically, the value of STEM is not properly communicated to these young minds that it becomes so far removed, leading to girls abandoning their interest in it, or not harboring any in the first place.

5. Stereotypes and imagery. These two are probably the biggest culprits we have today, and the issue tends to start very early. Why else would toy aisles be lined up with toy soldiers for boys and pink dolls for women? From a very young age, girls are often taught how to behave “properly” in society. Furthermore, the idea of acting all feminine and succeeding in male-dominated fields are shown to be mutually exclusive, when in reality, girls can do both. Children should be taught from a very young age that they can be anything and succeed in anything, so long as they put in the work needed.

A girl watching video on laptop. A girl watches a video on Youtube on a computer on February 27, 2013 in Chisseaux near Tours, central France. Meanwhile, a mom discovered some videos on Youtube and Youtube Kids that promote violence. LAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images