Women in STEM Research Paper
Women, Science, and Technology
Women account for 39% graduates in the field of in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and computer science (STEM), and a whole 66% are taking non-STEM courses. Few females work in STEM-related courses. A National Household Survey shows that despite there are many women in universities, few of them are pursuing STEM courses. However, they have played an active role in the development of science and technology. Women have an important part in the teaching of STEM courses in addition to participating in philosophical work that enhanced the success of the great scientific revolution. Their discoveries in the field of health sciences have greatly impacted on the society. The discovery of quinine, an antimalarial drug, is attributed to a woman. Furthermore, females have made numerous discoveries in astrology and an immense contribution to the computer technology. One cannot underestimate the work and inventions of Ellen Ochoa in astrology and natural science as a whole, and Marissa Mayer in computer technology in the current era of the Internet. Moreover, technology has impacted on women roles and gender issues. The gender gap is now shrinking as females gain jobs in science and technology fields. Women activists can now communicate effectively using technology. Technological development has transformed difficult duties of females such as fetching water from rivers to easier tasks since water can be at the door step through pumping and piping.
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Women never used to play an active role in education because of the societal demands and expectations. However, during last few centuries, the situation has changed tremendously, and females are now flocking learning institutions to fulfill their learning desires and acquire jobs just like men. Many organizations and authorities are in place to have this gender receive equal opportunities in all spheres of life. However, women remain underrepresented in the fields of science and technology. Fortunately, despite such inequality, they have made tremendous contributions to the development of these spheres. Females represent an enormous proportion of young graduates in universities, yet their representation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and computer science (STEM) fields is decimal (Hango, 20135). This research looks forward to discussing the role women have played in the development of science, technology, and engineering. Additionally, the paper will analyze how technology has impacted their roles as well as ideas of gender.
Current Position of Women in STEM Fields
Nowadays, encouraging students to choose programs of learning in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and computer science (STEM) is an outcome of innovation strategies in many countries in the world (Hango, 2013). The number of women working on the STEM-related jobs is lower and with high rates of unemployment for those who pursued these courses compared to men. Such a thing indicates that although STEM fields are regarded to be important and critical in innovations by many countries, few women are pursuing courses in this field compared to their male colleagues.
Level of Unemployment in Men and Women in STEM Field
Surveys have revealed that although many women pursue higher education levels, only a few choose courses in the field of STEM. For example, the National Household Survey (NHS) found that females represented 39% of all the university graduates between the ages of 25 and 34 years with degrees in the field of STEM, which is far much less than those pursuing non-STEM courses and accounting for 66% of all graduates (Hango, 2013). This survey further established that of those women who pursued STEM field courses, 59% were in science and technology, 23% in engineering, and 30% in mathematics and computer science programs. When compared to their male colleagues, the proportion of females was small in all these courses (Jacobsen, 2011). Furthermore, the survey established that women are less likely to choose STEM programs regardless of their abilities in mathematics and science unlike their male counterparts (Hango, 2013). Therefore, this is a clear indicator that females will be underrepresented in this field even in the future unless their enrollment for higher levels of education is addressed so as to increase their numbers in pursuing the courses.
Figure 1. Comparison of men and women in different fields of learning (Hango, 2013).
However, underrepresentation of women does not mean that they have failed to contribute to the development of science and technology. Furthermore, females have been substantially impacted by technological changes. This has affected their roles and ideas of gender.
Women’s Contribution to Science and Technology
Women started to contribute to science and technology mostly during and after the era of scientific revolution that lasted from 1550 till 1700, when science began to gain fame in the society. The same way through which females participated and responded to the humanistic period of Renaissance, they also got involved in the scientific revolution (Hasan, 2013). According to Hasan (2013), the excitement of new scientific discoveries of both the 17th and 18th centuries was a great inspiration to gifted women who went ahead to discover and formulate theories not only in the field of physical and biological sciences but in technology as well. Some of these females carried out their experiments that led to the publication of scientific findings. Their contribution has overwhelmingly accelerated the development of science and technology.
Ana de Osorio, who contributed significantly to the field of health sciences by participating in the discovery of the most effective drug against malaria, is a perfect example of a woman successful in sciences. She was the Countess of Cinchon, who lived between 1599 and 1625 (Medina, 2008). Osorio was the first person in Europe to inform the world about the medicinal properties of quinine, got from the bark of cinchona that was brought from Peru. Ana found this out after suffering from malaria and realizing she got cured of her condition after using the bark. She prompted many scholars to carry out studies on the healing property of quinine, something that led to the discovery of the antimalarial drug in the future years. Up to date, her contribution to the health sciences has seen many people get healed from the deadliest malaria disease. It shows that women have been playing a vital role in the field of medicine as they have discovered numerous effective medical drugs.
Women have also impacted on the development of science and technology through the teaching of various programs and disciplines in this field. Currently, there are many lecturers of female gender who teach and spread scientific information in the society through research and publication of scientific papers. That notwithstanding, this possibility appeared almost three centuries ago whereby women were given the right to teach and study science. For example, in 1732, the University of Bologna invited Laura Bassi, who was 21 years old, to join its faculty (Frize, 2013). She was the first woman to teach a course in science at the European university. She was interested in physics, especially in the phenomenon of electricity. Furthermore, Laura took an active role in the research field. According to Frize (2013), she published several scientific papers on subjects such as hydraulics, physics, and mathematics. Her work was spread to many other scholars through the written publications. Therefore, women have helped in the development of science and technology through teaching and research.
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From another perspective, women of the scientific revolution era enhanced the development of science and technology through their philosophical work by arguing for putting the scientific knowledge in practice. Pro-scientific revolution philosophers claimed that the universe and its contents work under natural laws, which are discoverable by a means of reason (Hasan, 2013). Lady Margaret Cavendish, who lived from 1623 to 1673, was one of the pioneers who refuted the claims of religion and theology that everything in the universe was under the influence and control of God (Sarasohn, 2010). Her philosophical arguments helped in popularizing the scientific revolution. Sarasohn (2010) further explains that this colorful, outspoken woman ridiculed for her eccentricities was the first person to argue that theology falls outside scientific inquiry parameters. Those who read and followed her thoughts were influenced and encouraged to develop science because at that moment, it was the only way to answer most of the unanswered questions about nature. Other than promoting the science, she advocated for women education and their involvement in both the fields of science and technology.
Discoveries and inventions made by women in the field of engineering and technology are still impacting on the society. For instance, Hedy Lamarr, the sexy movie star that rocked the world in the 1930s and 1940s. invented the remotely controlled communication system, which the US military used during World War II (Lippincott, 2012). Her invention used the frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) transmission. FHSS transmission refers to the repeated switching of frequencies during radio transmissions so as to mitigate interference as well as avoid interception. This technology is useful in obstructing telecommunication jamming and counter eavesdropping. According to Lippincott (2012), the frequency hopping theory Hedy Lamarr developed, currently serves as the basis for modern technology in communication including both Wi-Fi and the renowned Bluetooth network connections. She defied all odds of staying at home and doing the traditional domestic duties of women. Instead, Hedy Lamarr decided to foster her work to influence the world through her intervention. Without the achievements of this woman, the world would not be enjoying wireless technological services.
Females have further contributed to space engineering and discoveries in the same field. For instance, Ellen Ochoa is an outstanding engineer who became the first Hispanic woman to go to space. Space industry was perceived as a male area, but she broke this stereotype by becoming the first Hispanic and the second female director of Johnson Space Center being a part of NASA. Ellen went against the myth by joining a field of engineering that is dominated by men in the area of space studies. Other than making history as an astronaut, her work in the field of physical science is irrevocable. Ellen Ochoa is a co-inventor of three patents, which are useful in scientific work. According to Schraff (2009), these three patented inventions are helpful in the refining of images coming from space. That notwithstanding, Ellen Ochoa contributed to the invention of the optical object recognition method, optical inspection system, and a robust method for the removal of noise in space images (Schraff, 2009). Her reputation outstands any achievement in the spheres of engineering and technology, since she is also a pilot. Her role in the invention field has helped astronauts study space. Furthermore, Ellen Ochoa’s work and achievements are a motivation to the female gender who used to think that engineering and space are only for men.
On the same line, people are enjoying the outstanding work of women in computer technology. One example of high achievements is Marissa Mayer, the first female engineer at the renowned Google. All users of the Google services from the Internet platform enjoy the work of this young woman. She joined the Google Company in 1999 and progressed well in her work, something that has seen the outstanding female get promotions to become the current vice president of local services (Isabelle & Valle, 2015). Marissa has had an enormous influence on the progress of this technological company. Isabelle and Valle (2015) explain that her work has led to the success of Google Maps, Google Earth, Local Search, and Street View and Latitude. Her irrevocable performance has seen Google become the leading mobile, web, and search company in the world. Such a thing shows how women have contributed to the growth and development of science and technology.
Impact of the Technological Change on the Role of Women and Gender Issues
Technology has affected the role of women in the society to a great deal. It has made the implementation of their house chores simple, something that helps females spend less time on completing their routine tasks. In the society, women have the responsibility of performing home duties such as fetching water for domestic use (Jacobsen, 2011). Technology has considerably improved access to water. In the past, women used to fetch water from nearby streams, springs, and rivers. Sometimes, the sources of water would be far away from homes, compelling females to walk long distances so as to acquire the precious natural resource (Jacobsen, 2011). Once at the water source, they would spend a lot of time on fetching the water, leave alone the time spent on getting to the source. Sometimes, the rivers would contain deadly animals that endangered women’s lives. The advent of technology has made this role much easier to perform leaving this group of people to enjoy extra time to carry out other duties and responsibilities.
Water-related technologies have helped shorten the distance between homes and water sources. Jacobsen (2011) reiterates that technological inventions have contributed to reducing the distance from water sources through many ways like the digging of local wells and boreholes as well as bringing the water from distant places to the homes through plumbing in pipes. Technology has improved water portability, increased its amounts, and reduced the energy those who fetch the water wasted. For example, pumping technology using pumps and generators brings water to the houses whereby women may not need to visit rivers with the aim of fetching water. Once this role of females has been made easy, they may engage in other activities and carry out other duties and responsibilities. Jacobsen (2011) explains that most women are now spending more time on paid work while the number of female children enrolling in schools is increasing at the time when women’s role of fetching water is reducing due to technology. Therefore, technology has made the work of women easier.
Furthermore, changes in technology have seen many women take roles that were once perceived to be those of men. In the past, females used to stay at home and do domestic duties such as taking care of the children and cooking among many others things. Currently, technological changes have seen women take active roles in the society such as getting employed so as to support their families. Wong (2012) explains that many females have acquired jobs in the field of engineering and manufacturing while others are teaching computer science and many other disciplines. Such a thing shows that science and technology have been embraced by women who have gained an insight to seek for jobs in which they are interested. A perfect example of such females is Doctor Ellen Ochoa, a veteran astronaut, who currently is the directors of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the first woman in Hispanic history to go to space (Schraff, 2009). Furthermore, her contribution to the engineering sphere is irrevocable. According to Schraff (2009), Ochoa is the co-inventor on three patents in addition to being the author of many technical papers. From her work, it is evident that science has impacted on the role of women in the society. In this case, she no longer stays in her home to accomplish domestic chores the way traditional females did. In fact, Ellen Ochoa went to school and pursued a science course before becoming an engineer and astronaut who has tremendously impacted on the world. If it were not for science, she would not have changed her role and become an astronaut.
That notwithstanding, technology has significantly impacted on the role of women by helping them perform many duties while managing their homes. Females can now access markets easily and buy or sell products while communicating with those at home through phones (Wong, 2012). Phones that access the Internet allow them making shopping online. Moreover, involvement of women in technology has helped many of them acquire jobs in various fields. Some of these fields are technical and were viewed to exceptionally for men. Other than engineering, there are many information and communication technology (ICT) jobs such as insurance, information processing, banking, publishing and printing (Fontana, 2009). Therefore, it is quite clear that gender roles and issues have been affected by science and technology through the immense contribution of various technological changes. Such a thing shows that gender issues of equality between men and women have been influenced substantially.
Technological changes have affected gender issues on the way women advocate for their rights in the society. In the past, females used to be submissive to men and were not supposed to argue against what the latter initiated. Nowadays, technology has helped women achieve emancipation through the realization of financial empowerment and, most importantly, their rights in the society. Sívori and Zilli (2013) assert that the Internet and computer technology has improved the work of women right activists and their organizations. Female activists can now pass and collect useful information quickly through the web. Raising awareness, creating cross-border networks, engaging in dialogue, putting enormous pressure on decision makers, and mobilizing people is much easier now than before because of technology (Sívori & Zilli, 2013). Figure 2 shows the value of the Internet for the work on sexuality rights. Although women still face challenges such as online violence, they are better equipped to use science and technological advances in fighting for their rights and impacting on gender issues.
Figure 2. Value of the Internet for sexuality right’s work (Sívori & Zilli, 2013).
The tradition demanded women to stay at home and perform domestic chores. These stereotypes have impacted on females greatly although the situation is changing. Currently, women continue flocking in areas and duties formerly left for men such as attending universities and getting paid jobs. However, females are underrepresented in some fields such as STEM despite their efforts to reduce the gender gap. In spite of being underrepresented in STEM field, they have significantly contributed to the development of science and technology through various ways. They have made a great contribution in health sciences through the discoveries of disease medications. Others have promoted science and technology through the teaching of STEM courses while others have supported the scientific revolution through philosophical work and encouragement of women to participate in the ever-advancing field of science and technology. That notwithstanding, females have played a great role in space industry. For example, Ellen Ochoa went to space in addition to making inventions that help astronauts accomplish their work. Furthermore, women have made the computer world a place to enjoy through their tireless work and discoveries, which humanity is enjoying. FHSS transmission and part of Google work are attributed to females.
From another perspective, technology has impacted on the role of women and gender issues. It has made the work of females easier. Moreover, women are now able to acquire jobs and flourish well. Gender equality is now becoming feasible since females can already do what men do in this technological era. Finally, women rights activists can now communicate efficiently in the era of the Internet and communication technology, making their struggle for gender equality even more efficient than ever.