STEM matters: ensuring gender balance for a better society
March 8, 2023

STEM matters: ensuring gender balance for a better society

Why is it important to ensure equal rights? It is a pity that we should still be asking this question in the 21st century.

Unfortunately, it is not a matter of the question itself, but the painful stereotypes that underpin women’s underrepresentation in various areas. One example reflects the reality of the situation. According to Eurostat, women represent just 17% of all the people working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) across Europe. 

In my capacity as an enthusiastic learner and a novice in project management, I’m glad to share my recent experience taking part in a podcast hosted by EU NEIGHBOURS east and Diez. The event provides a glimpse inside the minds of three speakers with a background in academia, product management, and IT, as we debate assertiveness, opportunities, and the question of whether or not there is a gender wage gap.

It’s no secret that women continue to be underrepresented in the Republic of Moldova’s IT sector, which accounts for around 7% of the nation’s GDP. Despite being among the highest paying jobs, women hold just 20% of positions in information technology. Even the small number of skilled women who work in this domain struggle to dispel a number of misconceptions, such as:

– The stereotype of the “male-dominated” industry holds that women are usually thought to be less technically skilled and less competent to handle complex technological issues. 

– The “work-life balance” myth: women in the IT sector are seen as less committed to their work and more focused on their personal obligations and lives. 

– The stereotype of “lack of interest”: women are underrepresented in the information technology sector because it is widely held that they have no interest in pursuing careers in these fields. 

– The “soft” leader stereotype claims that women are typically seen as being less assertive, less decisive, and less competent to handle challenging situations. 

– According to the “emotional” stereotype, women are less suited for leadership positions because they are seen to be too emotional to make logical decisions.

These biases can be harmful and generate barriers for women. It is imperative to debunk these myths and highlight the successes and achievements of women in leadership roles. Removing these constraints and building an equal workplace can be facilitated by encouraging inclusion and diversity in management teams.

It’s difficult to predict how the gender imbalance in STEM will evolve in the future, but several trends and initiatives suggest that the imbalance is gradually improving. Increased awareness, for example: the issue of gender imbalance in STEM fields is becoming more widely recognised, and more organisations are taking steps to promote diversity and inclusivity in these fields.

While progress has been made, there is still a long way to go before gender equality in STEM fields is achieved. To create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women in STEM, governments, corporations, educators, and individuals must continue to work together.

Finally, to answer the initial question, ensuring equal opportunities in STEM fields is crucial for better outcomes, bridging the gender pay gap, addressing skills shortages, fostering a more equitable society, and encouraging girls to pursue their passions. It leads to a more inclusive and supportive environment, which benefits individuals, organisations, and society as a whole.

My advice to anyone interested in following this path is to believe in yourself and not let anyone convince you that you cannot succeed and accomplish your goals. The STEM field is full of endless possibilities and allows you to make a real impact in the community. Recognise your curiosity, pursue your passions, and trust yourself. You have what it takes to succeed, and there are numerous resources to help you along the way, as well as industry examples and leaders, open for discussion.

If this has piqued your interest, don’t hesitate to give the podcast a chance! You can listen to it here.

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