Women in STEM Need More Female Role Models

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There has been the discussion about the gender gap in science, math, technology, and engineering (STEM) field in the recent years. A recent survey found that 63 percent of women pursuing a STEM degree struggle with confidence, and they even state that their gender was holding them behind. Women, say that the lack of female role models was the biggest issue when they were asked about the struggle. Coursera, a popular online course provider, decided to run tests when they found out that female students only have 34 percent STEM course completion. It is believed that with the more encouraging women in STEM, the more female learners there could be.

Coursera tested this hypothesis by sending out a promotional email about a machine learning course that are taught by two different instructors with the same credentials, though only one was female and the other was male. In the following weeks, female learners were 26 percent more likely to go on and enroll into a STEM course when the instructor was obviously female as compared to when they were male.

Sarah Richardson, a postdoctoral fellow in biology, says “The first thing [people] say to me is ‘You don’t look like a scientist.’” She didn’t realize that this was the reason that her career was suffering. Her colleagues thought that she didn’t look like a scientist either. Even with women making up 47 percent of the workforce, women are still the minority in science fields. A study shows that the culture of the tech industry that holds mostly males is something that is holding women back from being a part of the science field. Even with the growth of women in biology, chemistry and math, there is a growth in the gap in computer science, engineering and physics fields.

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