Why Do We Need Women in STEM Fields?February 28, 2011
Each month this year, AAUW teams up with Nature Publishing Group, one of the world’s leading science publishers, in an online forum on women in science. The AAUW posts highlight findings from our 2010 research report, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, now in its third printing.
This is a question that comes up pretty regularly. Here is one answer.
Attracting and retaining more women in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce will maximize innovation, creativity, and competitiveness. Scientists and engineers are working to solve some of the most difficult challenges of our time, and engineers design many of the things we use daily. When women are not involved in science and engineering, experiences, needs, and desires that are unique to women may be overlooked.
For example, Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing discusses the fact that “some early voice-recognition systems were calibrated to typical male voices. As a result, women’s voices were literally unheard. … Similar cases are found in many other industries. For instance, a predominantly male group of engineers tailored the first generation of automotive airbags to adult male bodies, resulting in avoidable deaths for women and children” (Margolis & Fisher, 2002, pp. 2-3).
With a more diverse workforce, scientific and technological products, services, and solutions are likely to be better designed and more likely to represent all users, and the direction of scientific inquiry will be guided by a broader array of experiences.
Why do you think it is important to have women in STEM fields?
See the original post and take a poll on Scitable at nature.com.