Friday's Food For Thought: Women in Science

Worldwide initiatives to close the STEM gender gap

By Lindsay Tilton Mitchell

Feb. 12, 2016

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, less than 25 percent of U.S. employees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are female. In an effort to encourage global awareness and inspire girls to participate in STEM, the United Nations General Assembly declared Feb. 11 as an International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

In honor of this day, the White House created a list of just a handful of women who have left their mark in the STEM field. The list includes Rear Adm. Grace Murray Hopper, who was at the forefront of computer and programming language development over a 40-year period; Rachel Carson, a marine biologist and environmentalist; Ada Lovelace, the founder of scientific computing and the first computer programmer; Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly into space; and many more. Learn about their stories here.

The UNESCO Institute for Statistics produced an interactive infographic illustrating the worldwide STEM gender gap. According to the graphic, women remain underrepresented in research and development in nearly every corner of the globe, with the exception of the Philippines, Thailand, and Kazakhstan. Users can click on different regions and countries to learn what percentage of female researchers exist in that geographic area.

Female-centric STEM initiatives are becoming increasingly popular. A Mashable article lists STEM initiatives for girls around the world, including The New York Academy of Sciences’ 1000 Girls – 1000 Futures, Destination Imagination in Singapore, the European Centre for Women and Technology, Women in Science Australia, and many more.

Despite lopsided statistics, progress is being made. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) took a stunning photo this week in its mission control room of the more than 150 women working in STEM at JPL.


Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech