The years have sparked growing concern regarding the number of women engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. But according to figures from Code.org, female participation figures have skyrocketed over the past ten years. The organisation’s US survey, for example, indicates that more than 29,000 female students took an AP Computer Science exam in 2017, compared to just 2,600 female students in 2007.
There’s also been a similar rise in figures from the UK’s core STEM industries. As WISE reports, there are 61,430 more women working in the science, tech, engineering and mathematics sectors now than there were in 2016. Year by year, it’s clear that statistics like these are growing and female STEM opportunities are improving. But that’s not to say there’s never been an interest in the industry subjects or doorways that women can walk through.
As we all know, there are many historical female figures who’ve taken STEM to the next level. There was chemist and bioproduct pioneer, Ruth Rogan Benerito, who saved the cotton industry in post-WWII America; and also Edith Clarke, an incredible electrical engineer who performed difficult mathematical equations way before computers or calculators were around.
Even today, women around the world are utilizing their natural flair for engineering, mathematics, science and tech. In the 2017 space sector, NASA’s astronaut intake changed to a (near) 50-50 gender ratio, bringing light to current levels of gender inequality within the STEM workplace. Consequently, media outlets made it their mission to uncover a few of the women who are flying forward in the tech, engineering and space-based industries.
As Bustle reveals, “women are a key factor in the new phase of the space race. From engineers and tech CEOs to astronauts and space recruiters, gifted and passionate women are focusing their eyes on the astronomical horizon.” To name just a few of the women featured in their recent article, Natalya Brikner was a woman who became CEO of her own space entrepreneurship company before she turned 30, and Anousheh Ansari is known the world’s first female tourist in space.
And with so many influential leaders out there with outstanding career journeys, there are plenty of stories to educate and inspire aspiring female STEM participants. That’s why so many learners are looking to secure a place in a school that supports diversity and equality. After all, as scientist Mae Jemison explains, education should be equal for everyone. “Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world.”
Here are 4 universities leading the way for women in STEM…
As more and more disruptive digital technologies emerge, the shape of the workforce will need to evolve and adapt to meet future challenges. The development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills has become an imperative.
As the first Australian university established outside a capital city, UNE successfully embodies the ethos of “learning without limits”. By continually pushing the boundaries of education and welcoming students from a diverse range of backgrounds, the institution has built its two Science Schools, (the School of Science and Technology and School of Environmental and Rural Science), on a foundation of equality. We support students from all walks-of-life and educational backgrounds as they work towards a STEM career. For example, in an environment where currently only 33 percent of Australian STEM graduates are women, and only 12 percent of the associated workforce is female, UNE takes pride in encouraging and supporting women in STEM.
When asked to advise women contemplating the pursuit of a career in STEM, the UNE Vice-Chancellor, Professor Annabelle Duncan, stated: “An education and a career in STEM introduces you to a way of thinking about life in a systematic way. When you take that approach and apply it to any problem, it will open up so many doors for you!”
And this is true for anyone, not just women.
With a vast array of undergraduate courses on offer, once you have enrolled at UNE you will have the chance to engage with a contemporary curriculum in the Bachelor of Biomedical Science , Bachelor of Computer Science or Bachelor of Science degree. To push your studies further, there’s also the opportunity to pursue a postgraduate course and engage with revolutionary research programs.
A Science degree at UNE is the way to your future.
Situated in Southampton, this university’s electronics and computer science department (ECS) has proudly earned the Athena SWAN Bronze Award. As recipients of this honourable title, the faculty has been recognised for its work in tackling the issue of gender inequality in science and engineering.
Since winning the award, ECS is focused on expanding outreach activities so more women consider studying STEM subjects for their higher education experience. The school aims, for instance, to raise the number of female support meetings, increase the number of mentorship sessions and supply students with necessary access to diversity and equality training.
Through the school’s course offerings, you’ll be taught by top-tier researchers and gain the chance to contribute towards some of today’s most significant scientific issues. The BEng Mechatronic Engineering scheme triggers a lot of student interest, submerging participants into the complex world of micro-machines. By meeting the industry’s needs for more engineers, this course prepares you for the working world surrounding power systems.
You’ll also be interested to know that the ECS department has its own Tony Davies High Voltage Lab (TDHVL). With this unique platform on your side, you’ll have the power to ignite your career goals and ambitions with practical laboratory experience.
By adopting the mission to “contribute to the scholarship of discovery, integration, application and teaching”, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore promotes an inclusive learning environment. This school believes that everyone should have the right to learn STEM subjects, and strives to maintain equality within the classroom setting.
The school recently held a “Women in Engineering, Science and Technology” on-campus event. With renowned speakers such as Professor Christina Chai and principal investigator Vanessa Tolosa enlightening the stage, many stories were shared and critical topics discussed. For instance, the conference addressed themes surrounding growth mindset and how to encourage women in technology.
By joining this university, you’ll gain access to technologically-advanced research and test out a range of cutting-edge equipment. There are unique ‘characterization’ facilities, X-Ray machines and even a Liquid Nitrogen Central facility open for students to use. By working with this machinery, your practical expertise will inevitably develop.
Alongside a rich selection of research tools, the school also has a vast array of undergraduate courses on offer. A popular route is the BSc Science in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence scheme as you get to solve real-life problems and work across multiple domains of Singapore’s digital economy.
The University of Arizona boasts a thriving physics community that’s dedicated to female participation. Known as Women in Physics (WIP), the community was built for Arizona STEM students with the goal of promoting inclusive education. Spurred by university-wide support, this group took matters into their own hands with regular discussion lunches and career workshops.
In line with the WIP’s mission, Arizona’s School of Mathematics and Computational Science welcomes applicants from every walk of life. Its Computer Science department combines academic computing research with the development of business applications and systems to deliver a multidimensional syllabus.
Similarly, the Mathematical Science department supplies students with new knowledge in applied mathematics and statistics. By preparing you for the information age, programmes here promote a deep understanding of computational methods and current industry needs. So, if you’re seeking a career in technology, science and mathematics, you’re highly likely to benefit from Arizona’s extensive course offerings.
To further enhance this balanced education, UA has Community Connection schemes in place to educate the public on the importance of scientific research. As a student, you have the chance to get involved with a successful outreach initiative that offers course credit. This is an excellent opportunity that helps you develop your presentation skills and gain a unique insight into community service!
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International