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Smart Tribe: Women in STEM

There are many beautiful minds in the world who have helped to change the landscape in which we live and some of those have been exceptional women who have changed the world. With International Women’s Day approaching it is a good time to talk about Women in STEM, the past, the present and the future.

Women in STEM – The Past

Traditionally, women were expected to either maintain a home or work in less academic industries. The idea of a woman being able to be an engineer or tech expert has long been laughed at and it is a relatively modern notion that women are capable of entering STEM professions.

However, as with many careers, there have been female trailblazers who have worked hard to prove their worth and open doors for other women who may want to follow in their footsteps. Here are just a few:

  • Katherine Johnson, a space scientist that worked for NASA undertaking mathematical calculations to help guide the Friendship 7 Space Mission. Johnson went to West Virginia State College and studied Physics and Maths. Her story was made into a film called Hidden Figures which details her career at NASA.
  • Radia Perlman, a woman that is better known as The Mother of the Internet. She studied Computer Science at MIT and developed the algorithm for Spanning Tree Protocol (STP). It is this algorithm that made today’s internet a reality.
  • Susan Kare, an Iconographer that worked to create some of the most well known digital icons and fonts that we use today. The well known Geneva and Chicago fonts are her creations as well as the icons for cut and paste, the paintbrush for formatting and the Mac trash can icon.
Susan Kare at Apple in 1984.

Women in STEM – The Present

The scary truth is that only 14% of people in UK based STEM careers are women and despite the industry trying to recruit more women there seems little improvement in this area. Many people are left questioning why this is and the reality is that there are fewer women training in STEM areas because it is still seen as a male area. 

There is some great work being undertaken with young women and girls to encourage them into STEM, with excellent programmes and opportunities on offer but the reach is still not hitting as many young women and girls as it needs to in order to change the face of STEM as drastically as it needs to.

Some of the women currently working in STEM are shared below:

  • Dame Ann Dowling is a UK based engineer who has worked in aviation and academics. Her career has been wide-ranging and she has even held the position of President in the Royal Academy of Engineering. She is vocal about how STEM is a great choice for women to make and has enjoyed a very successful career.
  • Shurouq Al Hamaideh made a name for herself when she started to teach young people how to code and build websites after undertaking a UN training programme. Her efforts were noticed and shared widely on social media which has allowed her to grow her business and get more young people into STEM.

Women in STEM – The Future

The sad reality is that the sharp rise of women in STEM that we hoped for has not been achieved. Computer Science, technology and engineering are the areas that are struggling the most to attract women and the efforts that have been put in so far are not converting the number of females that were expected.

When we consider who may be the face of change in STEM it is worthwhile going back to education and parenting to consider if we are doing enough to engage young women and girls.  We also need to work out if we are educating them to believe that what they have is enough for a career in STEM and showing them the great female role models that have traversed the path before them.

Here at Smart Tribe, we see the value that women have to offer and we want to work with you to help find your the opportunity you are looking for. We work to unleash science by helping to solve real-life problems with academic research that may never have been used otherwise. Sign up for free today and find yourself the opportunity to demonstrate your skills to companies all over the world.

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