Nationwide, STEM-related courses and activities have given both males and females more opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
However, statistics have shown that though there are more women in the workforce than ever before, men make up most of the workforce when it comes to STEM-related careers.
A 2009 study showed that while females and males had about an equal presence in the workforce, males held about 76 percent of the STEM jobs.
A study in 2011 showed that only one in seven engineers was female, and in computer sciences, women made up only about 27 percent of the workforce.
A more recent study, in 2016, showed that women only make up about 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce, even though they make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce. Most of the small number of females work in the social sciences – about 62 percent – and in life sciences – about 48 percent. Only 25 percent of computer and mathematical sciences jobs are held by women. Engineering has the smallest number of women, only about 15 percent. Minority women comprise fewer than one in 10 employed scientists and engineers, a study showed in 2016, as well.
However, females have as much to offer in these fields as males do.
"Diversity is one of the great strengths of the human race, and it’s important that we take everyone’s viewpoints into consideration," says Alexis Marshall, a junior at City Honors School.
"Getting females more excited about and accepted in the world of science and technology is vital to our future, and should begin as early as middle and high school," says Kaily Ferger, a student at the University of Rochester. "Cultivating an early interest in these subjects will help many girls on their path to an eventual career in science."
"Women have different perspectives on such vital matters such as nutrition, recreational use of firearms, handling conflict, and women’s rights, and they deserve equal opportunities to these areas that benefit from STEM training," says Dr. William Duax, a University at Buffalo professor and distinguished scientist at the Hauptman-Woodward Institute.
There are many STEM-related programs and activities for females (and males, as well) to get involved in around Western New York.
Here are a few of them:
• The University at Buffalo offers STEM-related summer camps where students can go on different field trips. There are camps for math and science and it even offers a camp just for females.
UB also has a program called Tech Savvy, a one-day camp for females. It is a STEM program for girls to promote careers in science and technology.
Tech Savvy has a session for sixth- to ninth-graders and another one for those in 10th to 12th grades. Visit engineering.buffalo.edu for more information.
• The Hauptman-Woodward Institute offers a summer program for high school students to learn more about bioinformatics. "I am eager to maximize diversity in the program at all levels," says Duax, who founded the program. "For this reason, I need more minority students in the program and more female team leaders."
There are two sessions for the three-week program, where students learn bioinformatics, teamwork skills and even public speaking skills. Visit hwi.buffalo.edu for more information.
• The Buffalo Museum of Science offers many STEM-related camps, as well, for both males and females. There are camps for all different age groups to get the youth already interested in science. Its website, sciencebuff.org, has listed the different camps offered.
• Free Coding Classes. Participating in STEM activities doesn’t have to just be doing these camps, however. Computer sciences doesn’t have much female participation. There are thousands of websites online that can be used, as well. There are multiple free coding classes to learn the basics of coding. By just searching for "coding" thousands of websites will come up that will teach coding. No matter what age you are, you can easily learn coding.
• Western New York STEM HUB, has a wide variety of information about STEM/STEAM programs and activities around the region. Visit its website at wnystem.org.
With more activity within the schools of different STEM activities, it gets females interested in those topics. "Females can work toward the creation and expansion of such programs within school systems as a way to increase female presence in the fields of science and technology in future generations," Kaily explains.
Although females tend to go to the more artistic side of things, they have just as much to offer as men do in science, technology, engineering and math.
Alexis points out, "Only women will ever be able to truly bring the strengths and perspectives that women have."
Peyton Wagner is a freshman at Buffalo Seminary.