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The Stigma Around Women in STEM

By Tanya Bachu and Asal Mohammadi


Katherine Johnson, Augusta Ada King, Marie Curie, Rebecca Cole, Joan Clarke, Susan Kare: these are just a few of the formidable women in STEM who have changed the world with their work. Despite the work of women throughout the ages, the stigma around women in STEM fields is still ever-present in society today. In a changing world, men still dominate in terms of numbers with women only making up around 27 percent of STEM careers (2019). This 27 percent still faces barriers in their respective fields: studies show that female physicians can receive 8-29% less pay than their male counterparts. If asked to think of a doctor, the majority of people would think of a male as opposed to their female nurse counterparts. The stigmatization of STEM careers to be male only has been carried forward as women have unequal opportunities and implicit biases which leads to less diversity. Whether it’s stereotypes, gender discrimination, or competition from men, many women are coerced to back away from STEM, leaving their unique ideas to be left unshared.

The Colorado chapter hosted a Girls in STEAM Air Force event back in September of 2021

JuSTEMagine is an organization that recognizes the gap and breaks this stigma by encouraging and reaching out to women to join. One of the organization’s initiatives is the Girls in STEAM events where JuSTEMagine organizes quarterly STEAM events that aim to have elementary and middle school aged girls take part in several activities: “Drawing a Scientist,” experiments such as building a lego catapult, and open conversations. All of these activities aim to normalize and promote seeing women in the STEM field for young girls. One example is the “Drawing a Scientist” activity which aims to grow girls’ viewpoint of male dominated STEM careers. “One of the highlights of the Girls in STEAM Events are the guest speakers: women who hold careers in STEM fields. An upcoming event in February that is currently being planned is the Valentine’s Day Girls in STEAM Event, where JuSTEMagine will be partnering with She Leads STEM, a non-profit that promotes female equality in STEM. Apart from all of the Girls in STEAM events, JuSTEMagine welcomes and encourages all female volunteers and board members” says JuSTEMagine secretary and board member Claire Cenovic.





Works Cited

Martinez, Anthony, and Christnacht Cheridan. “Women Are Nearly Half of U.S. Workforce but Only 27% of STEM Workers.” United States Census Bureau, 2021, https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/01/women-making-gains-in-stem-occupations-but-still-underrepresented.html.

Tooke, Robert. “Social stigma shows in STEM fields.” The Daily Californian, 2022, https://www.dailycal.org/2014/10/03/social-stigma-shows-stem-fields/.

Arshad, Michelle. “BREAKING THE STIGMA AROUND WOMEN IN STEM.” The Seminole Newspaper, 2019, https://www.seminolenewspaper.com/breaking-the-stigma-around-women-in-stem/.

Williams, Joan. “The 5 Biases Pushing Women Out of STEM.” Harvard Business Review, 2015, https://hbr.org/2015/03/the-5-biases-pushing-women-out-of-stem.


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