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Why we need more women in STEM

iSaturday, Dec 10th, 2016 comments by Minaz

Rozina Myoya discusses the topic of why there is such a great need for more women to join pursue STEM careers below...

Great strides have been made in involving more women in STEM fields in the last decade. We have gone from Marie Curie being the only woman to attend a Conference on Physics held in 1927 to female empowerment initiatives being at the forefront in social development in most countries today. This comes to show the progressive thinking occurring in our modern world… Or does it?

We are still plagued with questions such as “Why are so few women publishing scientific papers?” a question posed by the New Scientist magazine, as it reports that in the medical field, female authorship of scientific papers has started declining since 2009. It is clear that as much progress as we have made in the past 100 years, the paradigm of gender equality may have varied, but not transformed.

What’s upsetting is that it has been proven time and time again that the inclusion of women in the field of STEM brings about huge strides in innovation and medical breakthroughs that lead to the saving of thousands of lives.

Only until a few years ago, women with heart diseases were misdiagnosed with the symptoms they showed and were often sent home with the wrong medication. This usually resulted in a fatal ending. Only until women got involved in scientific and medical research did the FDA and NIH realise that adding gender as a variable for testing new medication could result in saving millions of women from incorrect dosages of medication (medication which was previously only tested on males).

In the engineering field, male-dominated science and technology allowed women to be killed by first-generation airbags, because engineers did not take into account that breasts close to the wheel could push airbags up towards the neck.

These two examples show how crucial it is to include women in the STEM research field.

Apart from saving lives, economic benefits come from female inclusion.

A study conducted by Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and several other institutions showed that companies that employ more women consistently outperform their competitors. This is due to the fact that women bring in a different perspective that too often hadn’t been considered.

For example, Surbhi Sarna, an engineer of nVision is developing a technology to detect ovarian cancer and tube blockages, which would improve a century-old procedure that is painful to the patient. Amy Sheng, a mother and bioengineer, is working on CellScope, which allows parents to use a smartphone application to diagnose children’s ear infection.

Having more women participating in any scientific and technological process would lead to an increase in the usage of the products, solutions being created and success in the application of these products.

Gender equality is not just a “buzz word”. Studies have shown that implementing gender equality is a strategic approach any company should take in order to have a competitive edge in the market.

Achieving STEM diversity, especially, is extremely important as it is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. Excluding half the world’s population from opportunities in this sector would be depriving the world of a major resource.

 “Let's do our part to encourage young women in STEM by giving them role models, information and platforms for discussion. They need to know the world really needs them.” – Sue Williams, Inc.

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