Gender inequality in STEM persists

Sarah Shen, Staff editor

Both in the Lutherville community and beyond, there is an undeniable stratification in STEM-based jobs when it comes down to gender. At Dulaney, this is not reflected as much in the classes, but rather in an imbalance in certain STEM clubs and organizations.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and reinforced by anecdotes from the Dulaney population, gender in school-aged children correlates with little to no difference in STEM performance.

Even in nations with relatively high global gender equality indices, such as the United States and Finland, the percentage of women in the workforce stagnates in the twenties. While researchers have not come to a consensus on a specific reason for this disparity, the Dulaney community has its own thoughts on the issue.

Though many adults believe that the lack of significant female representation in secondary school STEM classes engenders these same girls’ future disinterest in the field, senior Cindy Jia, one of only three female students in this year’s AP Physics C class, considers her class an exception to the rule.

“Given that last year’s AP Physics class had at least if not more than half girls, this year’s kind of a fluke,” Jia said.

Past the surface level, Jia and her fellow female Physics C classmates, Anna Tang and Chansoo Park, agree that they have not been treated differently by either their peers or their teachers in regard to their gender.

Jia instead emphasizes the gulf between genders in respect to the many STEM-based clubs and organizations here at Dulaney.

She explains that she considers herself fairly successful in STEM, and that most of her friends are male. “If I were in the positions of past girls in robotics…if I had no friends in [VEX] robotics, I would have 100% been too uncomfortable to stay,” Jia said.

In the same vein, senior Julia Liu, member of Math Club/National Math Honor Society and former member of Programming Club, notes that the latter was particularly male, but adds that she did not notice the disparity as much because female members grouped together.

A lack of considerable female presence may take away this security and highlight differences, rather than similarities, in these miniature communities. Though both male and female STEM club members often have an unquestionable passion for the field, having few friends in such groups can increase feelings of loneliness and undermine this passion.

Other female members of STEM clubs at Dulaney stress the significance of these groups in a key role: formation, development and nourishment of interest in the field.

Barring ample representation in these activities, it is difficult for older students and working professionals to discover new interests and talents, as well as enrich old ones.