Science and technology is a dynamic field that is constantly changing and developing, but in one aspect it seems to remain stagnant and that is the gender disparity that exists to this day. Even today, only one in three scientists (33%) is a woman, as reported by a UNESCO Scientific Report 2021. This not only causes lasting damage to women in the short term, but also hinders the development of societies, innovation, and more, in the long term.
Let’s see why women are so underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. The low engagement of girls and women in science can be attributed to a myriad of reasons, such as the gender stereotype that has existed for generations in households and educational institutions that boys are better suited to science and more likely to succeed in STEM-related occupations. .
This belief also leads people to believe that since STEM careers are heavily male-dominated fields, they are not an appropriate field or career path for women. Cultural attitudes such as the ideology that investing in a boy’s education rather than a girl’s education would be more beneficial and yield higher returns, is also another reason why girls lose systematically the opportunity to study.
The consequences of these cultural stereotypes and attitudes are dire, as they deprive women of the growing economic opportunities generated by the rise of digitalized economies. It also leads to harmful technologies such as algorithms that discriminate against female job seekers.
They deprive girls of the fundamental right to education because Section 21-A and the Law on the right of children to free and compulsory education (RTE) entered into force on 1 April 2010 stipulate. These Acts to bring ‘free and compulsory‘ education for all children between the ages of six and fourteen, making it a fundamental right. The current dispensation in power has begun an empowerment of women country named “Beti Bachao Beti Padhaoin 2015 to address the education of girls.
However, it was clear from the advertisements aired that the message of misogyny rather than equality was being propagated. The announcement “Kaise khaoge unke haath ki rotiya, jabpaida hone nahi doge betiyan” Is translated by “How will you eat the bread from their hands, when you will not give birth to daughters”. The ad appears to advocate traditional gender roles, rather than preventing female feticide and facilitating equality for girls and women.
The Mexico’s approach which shows promise is to provide high school students and their parents with information regarding the huge demand for STEM jobs and the monetary compensation for them. When in possession of this information, worries about whether such a career is suitable for a woman tend to evaporate.
A study speak National assessments and comparative analysis of gender, science, technology and innovation assessed the level of support, opportunities and participation of women in science in different countries around the world such as the European Union, the United States, Brazil, South Africa, India, Korea and l ‘Indonesia. The study revealed that there is an inequality of opportunity as women have less access to resources such as education, technology, finance, etc., which ultimately affects their employability.
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The World Economic Forum find that women working in science and technology are less likely to access funding than men. It is also reported speak harvard business review that start-ups led by women received only 2.3% of venture capital, in 2020. The study also indicates that women in countries that treat them like second-class citizens and consider them as lower social status, therefore face disadvantages early in life and tend to have poor health care.
The study further states that even when women attend science and technology programs, about 30% of them drop out due to a lack of flexibility in working hours and childcare. Sophie Huyer, says: “Women have greater parity in countries where government policies support childcare, equal pay, flexible working and gender mainstreaming.”
Such changes could help achieve equality of opportunity and representation. Economies were ranked according to gender equality, the study considered health, social and economic status, access to resources and opportunities; societal policies such as childcare, equal pay, flexible working hours; and participation in decision-making. Considering all these factors, India ranked last. This result can be attributed to the low educational and social status of women in the country.
A contemporary way to fight for gender parity would be to use digital technology. Digital technology can reduce the gender gap by improving access to social services, financial services, identification and information. Women can access grants and loans more easily if they attempt to obtain them through digital transfer, as they can avoid social norms that can act as barriers such as the attitude shared by many households that a man should control the woman’s finances. Avoiding this empowers women financially.
Identification is also a way to achieve more independence as possession of a government-recognized document that allows a woman to access financial services, fight for her legal rights and claim mandates. promised by the government for her children or for herself.
Social media can also be a way to improve human rights through technology. Many social movements such as Me too, HeForHer and others, had significant and far-reaching effects for everyone. Cyber-feminsit forums are able to mobilize people around the world using various digital platforms to address intersectional, complex and varied feminist agendas that shed light on the plight of women and creative ways to address and address systemic gender bias.
Digital activism has its advantages such as being fast, cheap and breaking down barriers and increasing accessibility to powerful and influential individuals. However, the promotion of free speech is often accompanied by intrusive hate speech such as prejudice, divisive language, victim blaming and more.
Having gender parity in STEM fields would benefit everyone. As according to European Institute for Gender Equality, reduce the gender gap that exists in STEM would lead to an increase in employment of 850,000 in the EU by 2050. A study by the International Monetary Fund found that women bring new skills to the workplace; this not only increases the economic benefits for all, but also increases men’s wages.
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Featured image source: Hindustan time