I am a strong advocate for women and their roles in STEM. Before taking the Preparing for the Future Professoriate class this spring I did not know that in any given year since 1982 there are more women getting their undergraduate degrees than men in the United States. This is because in India this is never the case and all the exposure I had was the Indian educational system. I was accustomed to being in classrooms where women made up only one-forths or one-fifths the class strength and in some rare cases a little less than 50% of the class.
With the awe that women were doing much better in the United States than in India. I was dreaming of the day when India will reach such numbers. All these dreams were shattered when I looked at the enrollment numbers at Virginia Tech. There are about 77 female students for every 100 male students at Virginia Tech and the main reason for this is that the University is majorly an engineering school.
Why is it that women do not think Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are fields that they can pursue with an equal standing as men? Is it because the society tells these young women “STEM subjects are not what your mind can take in and comprehend so please do a subject that is not STEM”?
Is there a way to correct such stereotypes in the society? One of the solutions I can think of and I believe Virginia Tech is already doing is promoting science at elementary school level. Also, Hiring more women faculty can also help female students who join the Univesity have role models and mentors, encouraging them to pursue their careers in STEM fields.