Note: Article has been updated since original submission October 26, 2015, for a college assignment.
From my experience, the women that I know are the same as other men in computer science. They chose to study computer science because they like it and want to make a lifelong career out of it. This reason is similar to any other person who studies their major. One studies it because they like it. However, I do believe that stereotyping does exist and it may influence how females approach STEM fields. For example, at the high school, I’m volunteering at, the majority of my club is male, not female. Every time some girls stop at the door, we invite them in, but they decline the idea of hanging out in a technology or robotics club. Maybe it is truly lack of interest, but I think it may be the typical stereotypes of STEM, robotics, and technology being nerdy. At least, this was what I felt at the time. However, in reference to what I have seen in my age group, I truly believe the gap between and male and female representation in STEM Fields will decline.
The stereotypes of working in STEM fields are not dissuading women from it. Being in the STEM fields has its benefits, such as the money, research, innovation, etc. There tends to be a stigma that women avoid STEM fields because of its non-feminine and “nerdy” nature. In my opinion, I do not find this to be true. There have been studies that women are “underrepresented” in comparison to men, but it should also be taken into account what jobs have been traditionally female and male. Factors such as test scores or minority information should not be the only ones to determine the female interest in STEM fields. It should also factor in how women tend to choose other paths and careers. It is not fair to say that women are necessarily “underrepresented” if there tend to be similar trends among other disciples.
I believe that women choose other fields that men seem to be underrepresented in. For example, at Loyola University, women dominate the nursing field, even more so than in comparison with men dominating the computer science field. This pattern can be studied across other fields, but would probably show similar results. I do not think that this underrepresentation is caused by ability or stereotyping, but rather women and men choose the roles they think they are meant to pursue (whether they are conscious of it or not).
For instance, the traditional role of a woman has been to stay at home, watch the kids, or have some job pertaining to that. It’s only been recently (past few decades) that women have increasingly had a chance to go to school, have a job, etc., while men have had the chance to do so since the beginning of time. Ergo, women have had less opportunity to make a statement in a field. Being able to participate in STEM fields is not a matter of ability, but opportunity. Furthermore, the STEM fields are relatively “new” in terms of importance and need, thus women could be taking a longer time to choose these fields in relation to what they have been able to choose. Other disciples such as law or medicine have existed a lot longer, thus the distribution of female to male ratios is more balanced. As STEM becomes more established and expected as a career choice, women will eventually come to choose STEM fields at same rate men chooses STEM fields. I definitely see it happening in my future.