Recently I saw a commercial about girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). And honestly, I was not a fan.
By pointing out that being a girl in a STEM career is odd, it almost stigmatizes it. It could lead to girls who are already naturally drawn to STEM studies to believe that they are odd, when maybe they didn’t before.
When I have a daughter I am going to try not to tell her that she can be whatever she wants. Why? Because that is a given. Why wouldn’t she already believe that?
And what does this commercial tell the girls who are not naturally drawn to, or talented in, STEM subjects? Am I less important because I have a degree in writing? Should I be ashamed of myself because I didn’t try harder in STEM?
Even my own college has a special scholarship for “First Generation Students in STEM.” I am a first generation student, why am I less worthy because I chose to study something different? I must not have the same struggles as a first gen student in a math class rather than in my English classes.
I know what people are going to say, “STEM is male dominated and we need to try and change that.” Wrong. The National Science Foundation has published a study that tells us that the gender gap in STEM is not as large as we, (especially women) are told. So why are we still making a big deal out of it? Why are women in STEM still seen in such a different light that we need commercials and scholarships for it? I don’t see any big push to get more men interested in arts and humanities, even though according to The Atlantic “The same percentage of men (7 percent) major in the humanities today as in the 1950s.” Talk about double standards.
I am not trying to downplay the importance of STEM — trust me, I know how it feels to have your degree/passion seen as less unimportant — all I am trying to do is make young girls feel like they can pursue any career path they so choose. By having society tell them it’s important for them to pursue any specific career is not doing them any favors.