The Grace Hopper Celebration honors the legacy of Grace Hopper, a trailblazer in computer programming who led the team that developed the first programming language, a precursor to COBOL. The conference is organized by The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, a nonprofit organization founded in 1987 by computer scientist Anita Borg. It is an event to recruit, retain, and advance women in careers in computing and technological innovation.
The Grace Hopper Conference brings together companies ranging from small startups to tech giants. All are looking to recruit talented computer scientists and engineers. The event also includes panels on topics such as new applications for artificial intelligence and formulating an elevator pitch. In many ways, Grace Hopper resembles any other tech conference. However, there is one crucial distinction: the majority of the panelists, presenters and representatives are women.
What makes the Grace Hopper Celebration so important?
First and foremost, the Grace Hopper Celebration reminds the tech industry that female engineers not only exist, but that they are also just as hardworking and capable as their male counterparts.
When companies like Uber face backlash for low female representation, they often blame a lack of women in the industry. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reports Uber’s laughable finding that only 1,800 women engineers might be qualified to work for Uber. However, tickets for the celebration sold out within hours due to high interest from female computer scientists across the country. It seems safe to say that there are more than 1,800 women who meet Uber’s standards, regardless of their rigorousness.
The conference exposes women at different career levels to the vast array of careers in computer science. The stereotype of a lone male programmer sitting in a dark room coding video games is not an accurate depiction of computer science. Despite the many areas in which female engineers can apply their skills, many women are often unaware of available opportunities.
Grace Hopper showcases juggernauts like Google and Microsoft alongside smaller, lesser-known startups. The conference embodies the interdisciplinary and dynamic nature of computer science. For instance, Grace Hopper piqued my interest in Flatiron, a company that partners with oncologists to analyze data and recommend better cancer treatments.
Most importantly, Grace Hopper celebrates women in computer science. According to the WSJ, the percentage of female computer scientists in industry fell from roughly 37% in the mid-1980s to 18% in 2014. With only minimal gains since 2014, leaders must make a conscious effort to bring more women into the field. It’s also just as important to keep female computer scientists engaged and fulfilled throughout their careers. Many female computer scientists leave technical positions due to a lack of support from their company or, sometimes, gender discrimination. The Grace Hopper Celebration combats these negative forces by fostering an inclusive community.
The Grace Hopper Celebration is just one step that the tech industry can take to empower women in computer science. After listening to the inspiring experiences of female computer scientists, entrepreneurs, researchers and leaders, I am confident that events like the Grace Hopper Celebration can help resolve the gender imbalance in computer science.
Grace Hopper will be coming to Houston in 2018. I look forward to attending!
The increase of women in the workforce in the twentieth century drove U.S. GDP growth to new highs. However, as U.S. growth slowed, so did the rate of women entering the workforce. Pushing for equal representation in fields where women have been historically underrepresented may be the key to stimulating our economy.
Women’s entrepreneurship is one of these fields. Lauded by the Kauffman Foundation as an “economic tailwind that will give a boost to twenty-first-century growth” in the global economy, there is a lot of excitement surrounding the potential of women in entrepreneurship. By looking at characteristics of successful women entrepreneurs, we may gain a better understanding of how to make entrepreneurship more accessible to women.
Characteristics of Successful Women Entrepreneurs
The Kauffman Foundation and Stanford University uncovered some interesting results by surveying 350 founding CEOs, presidents, chief technology officers, and leading technologists of tech startups founded between 2002 and 2012. First, women in tech entrepreneurship are highly educated. Ninety-four percent have at least a bachelor’s degree and 56 percent have graduate degrees. Their educational training centers around business, the liberal arts, and STEM. Female entrepreneurs clearly represent a highly educated slice of the population. In comparison, only 33 percent of women in the United States possess a bachelor’s degree or higher; further, only 12 percent of women possess a graduate degree.
Research shows that female entrepreneurs experience success. On average, female entrepreneurs of all types (not just tech industries) perform seven percent better on the Kauffman Opportunity Entrepreneurship Share than male entrepreneurs. The KOES tracks the percent of new entrepreneurs who come from prior employment each year; these entrepreneurs leave their jobs to start businesses because they identified market opportunities. This indicates that women are better at identifying the market “gaps” where entrepreneurs thrive. Furthermore, women start their equally successful companies with 50 percent less capital than their male counterparts.
Nonetheless, some research finds that women entrepreneurs perform worse than men. Studies by Fundera found that women-owned businesses earn 30 percent less annual revenue than men. This could be creating a vicious circle, though; when companies make lower revenue, it is harder to access credit, making it more difficult to increase revenue in the future.
If women entrepreneurs tend to experience success, why are there so few women involved in entrepreneurship as a whole? Female-owned businesses only represent 16 percent of employing firms. Even then, these firms tend to be small, usually with employee counts in the single digits. Among high-growth, high-technology firms, women represent a mere 10 percent of founders.
Female entrepreneurs cite lack of available financial capital, lack of mentors or advisors, and the high requirements for time and effort as some of the toughest challenges in starting their businesses. Seventy-nine percent of women surveyed by the Kauffman Foundation reported using their own personal funds to start their business.
Male founders are more than three times as likely as female founders to secure financing through angel donors or VCs. Research at Babson College indicates that this difference may be linked to gender discrimination: “Because women entrepreneurs do not conform to the ‘role’ of the entrepreneur in the high growth venture, role incongruity may lead to greater perceived risk on the part of venture capital investors.”
Supporting Female Entrepreneurs
If women entrepreneurs are unable to secure funding on an equal basis with men, it may be impossible to ever see equal gender representation in entrepreneurship. We need to address gender-based biases of VC firms and other investors. Recruiting more women to the venture capital industry could help reduce unintended gender discrimination when making investments. Employee bias training programs may also help in this process.
Private and nonprofit efforts to encourage women’s leadership and entrepreneurship can be helpful as well. Initiatives like Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, the Women’s Entrepreneur Festival, and the Microsoft’s Women Think Next network are all examples of non-governmental programs that try to address women’s representation issues. Lean In Circles—small support groups made up of women in local communities and around the world— also serve as valuable tools to promote women’s economic involvement.
Government programs may also be successful in jump-starting greater women’s involvement in entrepreneurship. The City of Atlanta provided 15 women entrepreneurs the opportunity to incubate their businesses for 15 months through their the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative in 2016. On a federal level, implementation of more programs like the State Department’s African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program may benefit women, especially those in minority groups. One of the greatest challenges for women entrepreneurs is finding mentorship opportunities; local and state government initiatives to pair mentors with women entrepreneurs could help address this problem.
The U.S. economy is at a tipping point. In early 2016, Forbes magazine pointed out that female entrepreneurs are an “under-tapped force that can rekindle economic expansion.” However, despite strong evidence for growth potential and data supporting female entrepreneurs’ power, many barriers still exist. Through integration of more women into entrepreneurship ecosystems, we can achieve a brighter economic future for all.
To learn more about treatment of women within top tech companies, see the McNair Center’s blog post here.
To learn more about women in STEM fields, see the McNair Center’s blog post here.
Entrepreneurship and human rights are not frequently mentioned in the same conversation in the United States. However, in international policy, human rights and entrepreneurship are linked by many common policy goals, including enforcing the rule of law, improving infrastructure and fighting corruption. Rights necessary to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors–like the right to participate in the economy, the rights to education and information and access to credit–are considered crucial for the world’s poor. By pursuing these goals, human rights activists and entrepreneurship advocates can work together for the good of all.
Human rights are defined by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as “rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language or any other status.” Since the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, criteria has changed. Nonetheless, human rights continue to be a top priority in international law. According to the Department of State, the U.S. places an emphasis on human rights while pursuing foreign policy goals: “A central goal of U.S. foreign policy has been the promotion of respect for human rights, as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
A Mutually Beneficial Relationship
Human rights and entrepreneurship have the ability to reinforce one another. Hrishikesh D. Vinod of Fordham University examined the policy and advocacy goals of entrepreneurship and human rights, looking for areas for collaboration. He identified five key areas where the goals of entrepreneurs and rights advocates align: promotion of fair competition, creating infrastructure, protecting migration rights, exposing government corruption and preservation of the rule of law. Vinod describes entrepreneurship and human rights as natural allies. He notes that “their cooperation is likely to become a potent force for a worldwide progressive change.”
A study done by the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru helps to demonstrate Vinod’s argument in action. In this study, implementation of a human rights awareness and training campaign in Central Asia by a nongovernmental group increased new micro-businesses by five percent. The researchers who conducted this study urged that “the time is now ripe for acceptance of human rights approach to development of entrepreneurship as the human rights and entrepreneurship share a preoccupation not only with necessary outcomes for improving the lives of the people but also with better processes.”
The Right to Entrepreneurship
The United Nations Development Programme asserts that the rights that allow someone to start a business or become self-employed are “essential for the livelihoods of the poor.” The UNDP stresses that micro-entrepreneurship and self-employment are often the only option for the poor to generate money. Protection of these rights can impact many lives.
The right to entrepreneurship, along with other economic rights, can lead to the promotion of other social and political rights. A study commissioned by the World Bank explains the nature of the relationship: “The importance of participation in economic decision-making demonstrates how civil and political rights and socio-economic rights are mutually supportive, and why human rights recognize them to be interrelated, indivisible and interdependent.” For example, micro-credit and micro-entrepreneurship can increase economic, social and political empowerment of the poor, especially poor women. The Benazir Income Support Program offers small loans to women in Pakistan to pay for expenses and pursue entrepreneurship opportunities. However, this program did more than just bolster these women’s rights to entrepreneurship; the program also resulted in previously “unregistered” women becoming “registered,” giving them access to other social and political rights.
A 2010 study on women in rural Bangladesh also noticed a connection between entrepreneurship and other rights. Bangladeshi women often don’t have the opportunity to become formally involved in the economy. In this study, small bank loans gave them capital to start micro-businesses and increase their economic empowerment. With the ability to participate in trade, women can use their newfound security to pursue other rights as well.
In 2008, the Harvard Human Rights Journal pushed for the promotion of entrepreneurial rights of the poor. In their recommendation for the U.S. Human Rights agenda going forward, they suggested that the U.S. increase micro-entrepreneurship funding for other countries “because we know it works.” They added that it is “up to us to focus our resources on building a new generation of small entrepreneurs in the developing world.”
How Can This Impact Policy Decisions?
Knowing that entrepreneurship and human rights have the power to reinforce one another, we can create policy that accelerates both. When we protect human rights, individuals can feel empowered and safe to explore entrepreneurial endeavors. The trend works in the opposite direction as well; possessing the right to entrepreneurship can empower individuals to pursue the protection of their other rights. Economic power can allow vulnerable individuals to fight more effectively for the promotion of their rights.
This relationship demonstrates an important point for advocates of any cause: it is important think about collaboration whenever possible. There is always potential to find compromises that benefit all, and we have more in common than we expect.
In 2014, many of the top tech companies released information on their employee diversity demographics for the first time, bringing attention to the low representation of women in top tech companies. This post looks beyond these numbers. How are tech companies responding to this gender imbalance?
The top five tech companies by market cap are, in order: Apple, Alphabet (Google), Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook. The gender balance of each company’s workforce is in the table below:
All of these companies are seeking to improve their gender balance and support current women employees. Resource groups, family benefits and smart hiring practices are some of the most common solutions. Even when these efforts are made, the male-dominated work environments can be far from ideal for women at these companies.
Women Employee Experiences
Resource groups can serve as valuable support networks for women employees. Each of the top tech five has at least one employee resource group for women (Apple: Women@Apple; Google: Women@Google, Google Women in Engineering; Microsoft: Women@Microsoft; Facebook: Women@Facebook, Amazon: Women@Amazon, Amazon Women in Engineering, Women in Finance Initiative). All of these groups share similar goals: empowering women in their workforce and providing networking opportunities.
Many of these resource groups also participate in community outreach, engaging young girls and women and creating programs to foster their interests in technology. (See Women in STEM: Closing the Gap for more information on how community outreach can help change the culture around women in STEM in the United States.) After recognizing that underrepresentation of women in tech is related to the lack of educational STEM exposure and encouragement for women, Facebook created Computer Science and Engineering Lean-In Circles to support women in college who are interested in CS.
Sponsoring women’s tech conferences, like the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing or the Women in Real Life (WiRL) Conference, is also common among these resource groups. Amazon even holds its own conference: Every year, the women’s resource groups at Amazon also team up to host AmazeCon, a diversity conference that focuses on the achievements due to diverse teams at Amazon. The conference draws thousands of experts and leaders to discuss the importance of diversity in creativity and accomplishments.
Microsoft has taken an extra step by creating an innovative program for women, Women Think Next. WTN is a “worldwide community for professional women,” bringing together women from varying fields and backgrounds to network and support one another.
The program is not limited to Microsoft employees. WTN encouraged any and all professional women around the world to join. Women Think Next holds an annual networking conference and provides resources for women throughout the year. The conference also serves as a recruitment event for Microsoft to hire women with strong skills.
Everything isn’t always as it seems on paper, though. The male-dominated work environments at these companies can be isolating for female workers. In 2015, Microsoft faced a lawsuit accusing the company of gender-discriminatory policies in employee reviews. In May 2016, a former Facebook contractor published a piece on the sexism she experienced while working on a project team. During September 2016, Apple received criticism in the media for a series of leaked emails that revealed the company’s unresponsiveness to concerns of women employees. Through these emails, women employees described the company’s atmosphere as “toxic,” including workplace harassment and gender discrimination.
It is important to note that these are all anecdotal experiences. Each company responded by emphasizing that they take complaints like these seriously. The sensitive nature of the companies’ investigations of these claims prevents more information from being public.
In American society, women often face conflict between the gender norms surrounding women’s family responsibilities and a desire to pursue a career. Maternity and family leave benefits can be an important factor in a woman’s decision to stay with a company in the long run, especially after she has started a family.
Of all of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development member countries, the United States is the only one that does not mandate paid maternity leave. According to the most recent statistics, only 12% of Americans receive this benefit.
However, within the tech top five, they seem to go far and beyond this requirement. Below is a summary of the family leave benefits for the tech top five.
It is not surprising that these companies give generous benefits. Named the best place to work in the U.S. in 2015 by both Forbes and Glassdoor, Google is known for its employee perks. One of Google’s greatest strengths lies in its emphasis on self-study to determine workforce problems and find solutions. In 2007, Google’s People Operations (AKA Human Resources) department noticed that new mothers left Google at twice the average departure rate. In response, the company decided to lengthen paid maternity leave from 12 to 18 weeks. After this change, Google’s departure rate for new mothers dropped by 50 percent.
In 2014, both Apple and Facebook received media attention for their announcements that they would pay to freeze U.S.-based employees’ eggs. Apple announced it as a new dimension to their support for infertility treatments. The move was met with mixed reviews by the media. NBC News praised it as a “game-changing perk,” but The Guardian denounced it as “unreasonable and illogical.” Supporters of the policy argue that it gives female employees more flexibility in their decision to have children. Critics claim that the policy sends the wrong message, implying that if female employees want to succeed at work, they need to delay motherhood.
It is important to look not only at a company’s maternity leave policies, but at their parental and family leave policies as well. Studies of maternity and motherhood-related policies in other countries, like a mandated child care law in Chile and a reduced hours law in Spain, have shown that offering parental benefits only to women can lead to a decrease in salary and promotion rates of all women at a company, even those who don’t take advantage of them. One approach to combating these negative effects could be making these policies gender-neutral. This would allow for men to take advantage of these policies and reduce gender-discriminatory practices.
Hiring, Promotions and Pay
Facebook has received attention for its hiring point system. Facebook’s recruiters receive points for new hires, but based on the new recruits’ diversity, it can earn recruiters more points. White or Asian males only count for one point, whereas black, Hispanic, or female new hires count for two points. Higher point totals can lead to good performance reviews and bonuses for recruiters. This system incentivizes the creation of a more diverse workforce.
At Google, employee studies showed that women were less likely than men to submit their names for promotions. After Google brought this information to the attention of women employees, this discrepancy disappeared. Google now prides itself in the fact that they promote women and men at the same rates.
Amazon has also addressed its pay gap. Amazon boasts that women earn 99.9 percent of men’s salaries, explaining that the percentage fluctuates annually, so that it may not always reach a perfect 100 percent. However, Amazon has received criticism on its diversity reports for not including statistics on the percentage of women who make up their tech workforce. This discrepancy has led media to question whether Amazon has something to hide. Until Amazon releases more information, there is no way to know the state of female representation in their tech workforce.
What Does This Mean?
When compared to national averages, women are not as well-represented in the top tech companies. However, these companies provide benefits and services to their women and employees that are above and beyond the norm. Nonetheless, as the anecdotal experiences of the women at Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft have shown, a company can offer great benefits while still tolerating a discriminatory workplace environment.
Regardless, these companies need to develop new strategies to address low women’s representation. Only time will tell how future policy, research, and incentives will impact women’s employment in the tech workforce.
While the holiday season approaches, educational toys are in high demand. Some of the most innovative new toys are produced by startups. For many of these toys, they began with an entrepreneur who saw a need to integrate play and learning.
According to the most recent statistics, the United States toy market is worth $21.18 billion. In 2015, the industry surpassed growth expectations, which is especially impressive when compared to the overall retail industry, which grew 0.7 percent less than expected. The toy industry’s prosperity is drawing in entrepreneurs who are enticed by potential for high earnings. Although there are many start-up-developed toys on the market, here are some that have received waves of public support.
In 2013, father Dan Shapiro decided to teach his four-year-old twins how to program. Improvising, he created a game using printed pictures from his computer, which led to the creation of Robot Turtles, a board game designed to teach preschoolers how to program. After noticing how much his children enjoyed the game, Shapiro took time away from his job at Google to develop the game full-time.
Robot Turtles utilizes kid-friendly challenges and elements that teach the fundamentals of computer programming while kids play. Children do not even need to be able to read.
After the idea was ready, Shapiro took the idea to Kickstarter, an online community that funds creative ideas. The site connects creators to backers who can provide funds to get a project off the ground. With Robot Turtles, Shapiro set a funding goal of $25,000 so that he could produce his first set of games. Support was incredibly strong, meeting this goal 5 hours after being released. In the funding period of 24 days in September 2013, Robot Turtles managed to draw in 13,765 backers. The most-backed board game in Kickstarter history, Robot Turtles raised a whopping $631,260 in that short period.
By August 2014, Robot Turtles was in every Target store in America. Now, Robot Turtles continues to thrive. An interactive eBook, coloring sheets, and other add-ons were developed to supplement the game.
When Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen began their master’s program in engineering at Stanford University, they were two of the few women within their program.
In response to this gender gap, Chen and Brooks partnered up to create Roominate, a building toy designed for girls. Roominate sets include many modular and mechanical pieces that allow girls to explore their interests in design and engineering through play.
Roominate began on Kickstarter in 2012, raising $85,964. The project page highlighted their goal with bold lettering, “We believe that early exposure to STEM through toys will inspire change.”
Later, the product was also featured on Shark Tank, an ABC show where inventors pitch their ideas to successful investors in order to get funding, in September 2014. In the episode, investors Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner decided to partner with the organization.
After a few years with successful growth, Chen and Brooks took back to KickStarter in 2015 to fund development of a new product line for Roominate, “rPower,” featuring new modular wire pieces. This addition makes building and using the circuits easier for children. The Kickstarter campaign was extremely successful, raising over $50,000.
Home to PopUp Play, Austin is growing as a start-up hub in the United States.Not surprisingly, innovative Educational Toy start-ups can also be found in Texas. In Austin, married couple Bryan Thomas and Amelia Cosgrove have found a niche in harnessing children’s creativity.
PopUp play utilizes an iPad app to let children design the play fort of their dreams. The company then produces an assemblable fort out of corrugated fiberboard and delivers it in as little as a week. There are also plans to expand the iPad app so it can be used to supplement the play experience once the fort has been assembled. For example, the company is looking to develop a Submarine fort template along with a virtual periscope on the app to search the imaginary seas.
Like Robot Turtles and Roominate, PopUp Play found its start on Kickstarter. During a 32-day period beginning in May 2015, 135 backers provided $25,676 to help make PopUp Play a reality.
But that was just getting started. The team then began working with Capital Factory, a collaborative workspace and Accelerator Austin, Texas. They later also found allies in Techstars, an Austin Accelerator where they participated in a three-month mentorship program.
Since then, they have received waves of recognition, including being named one of the top 50 Best New Apps for Kids by Apple in 2015 and an American Airlines Innovator in June 2016. The company also won the top prize in its category in the South by Southwest Accelerator Competition in March 2016. This demonstrates that there is large potential for success. PopUp Play is also supported by high-profile investors, including Capital Factory, Silverton Partners, Floodgate, and Techstars.
Supporting Startups for the Holidays
Entrepreneurs tend to be passionate about their products and creative in how they make them a reality. Parents who are hoping to find fun, educational toys for their children can look to startups to find some of the most creative, innovative products on the market.
Economists around the world emphasize the benefits of integrating more women into the workforce. While we are seeing slow growth in women’s presence in many sectors, the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields at the core of innovation seem to be especially lacking in girl power.
In 2014, women comprised approximately 47 percent of the U.S. workforce. Within the innovation-focused STEM fields, women only account for about 19.5 percent. This underrepresentation of women is not only holding women back from success and achieving their full potential, but also preventing the U.S. economy from realizing the wide array of benefits which come from increasing women’s labor force participation.
Why We Need More Women in STEM
When women get involved in STEM fields, they are rewarded. Compared to similar women who are working in non-STEM fields, the salaries of women in STEM are 33 percent higher. For men, the difference is only 25 percent. Not only are salaries higher, but the gender pay gap is also smaller. A 2011 U.S. Department of Commerce study found that the average gap is 21 percent in non-STEM jobs. For STEM jobs, this gap is only 14 percent.
Women aren’t the only ones who benefit. Companies that place an emphasis on gender equality and hiring women tend to see positive impacts on their productivity and success. For companies marketing to women, the Harvard Business Review has shown that having input from women improves their “likelihood of success” by 144 percent. Innovative firms, along with many traditional businesses, can benefit from having female perspectives to help reach female customers.
Gender diversity in the workplace also enhances creativity among workers. When researchers at the University of Maryland and Columbia University teamed up to study top leadership in Standard and Poor’s Composite 1500 list, they found that female representation in leadership positions is associated with a $42 million increase in average firm value. They also saw that companies which emphasized innovation received higher financial gains when women were in top management.
U.S. Initiatives to Empower STEM Women
The Obama Administration has made efforts to increase women’s involvement in STEM. In 2009, President Barack Obama created the White House Council on Women and Girls, a team that coordinates U.S. policy, legislation, and programs to address the needs of women and girls. The Council has made women’s involvement in STEM a particular priority. They have announced multiple initiatives, like Title IX protections for equal education, work-life balance programs, and speaking tours for successful women innovators. The administration also made efforts to eliminate the gender pay gap through the creation of an Equal Pay Task Force in 2010 and an executive order affecting federal contractors in 2014.
These actions alone cannot address the full extent of gender inequality. However, they may improve the situation. Policies that encourage girls to explore their interest in STEM give girls the opportunity to develop passions in these fields. Once these passions become careers, flexible and non-discriminatory policies in the workplace can incentivize women to stay involved in STEM throughout their careers.
Women in STEM around the World
In North America and Western Europe, on average, only 32 percent of researchers, defined as “professionals engaged in the conception or creation of new knowledge, products, processes, methods and systems and also in the management of the projects concerned,” are women. Japan, one of the leading tech development nations, has a mere 15 percent. Surprisingly, Central Asia has the highest average proportion of women researchers, with 47 percent.
The United Kingdom ranks second in world scientific achievement, behind the United States. 35.7 percent of researchers in the UK are women. Within solely STEM fields, though, the proportion of women is even lower: only 14.4 percent. This trend is apparent across many of the nations with the highest investments and achievements in STEM.
Differences in gender norms affect incentives for women to enter these fields. In some regions, like India, women are expected to be caretakers and homemakers. Their participation in STEM, and the workforce in general, is therefore often very low. On the other end of the spectrum, there are certain areas in Asia where gender stereotypes regarding math and science are less prevalent. In these areas, STEM interest is greater among women than men.
Culture clearly has an effect on the proportion of women who get involved in STEM professions. A prevailing stereotype exists in American society that women are inferior to men in math and science. Although this stereotype has been proven untrue, societal beliefs and expectations can have an effect on women’s empowerment. Research by Claude M. Steele shows the effects of stereotypes on performance and self-perception. If we want to see a change in the proportion of women in STEM, we need to change our culture.
What is the Future for Women in STEM?
Remedying the gender gap in innovation fields is not a simple or quick process. It requires a combination of education for girls, policy changes that eliminate barriers for women workers, cultural changes, shifts in societal prioritization of gender equality, and much else besides. At the current progress rate, we are a long way from eliminating the gender gap. However, with concerted effort from policymakers, educators, and employers, there is hope for a fairer and more productive future.