HUNT: Does it STEM from Sexism?


Monday, May 18, 2020

In the past twenty years, there has been a push in pop culture to get more women into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This included nationwide organizations working with women interested in these subjects and offering them massive financial incentives.  For years, many have wondered why STEM is predominantly male. Many feminists and media types claim that STEM is simply sexist. They argue that the field is actively subverting female interest in the related professions. 

As a female student in STEM, I laugh at the notion that my field is sexist. I have struggled plenty with academics, but never have I felt impeded by the “patriarchy.” In fact, my engineering professors have been the most helpful—the ones willing to invest more of their own time in my success. My career prospects have grown exponentially as many firms eagerly seek out female candidates. Many companies even have a gender quota to meet. Earlier this year, I was elected Vice President of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, California/Nevada section. I have never dealt with systemic sexism in STEM and with the plethora of opportunities afforded me you’d think I would have by now. 

Sadly not all women share the same positive experience. Harvard Business Review states:

“It’s so tempting to attribute the paucity of women in STEM to pipeline problems or personal choices. But it’s time to listen to women scientists: they think the issue’s gender bias, and an increasing amount of research supports that view. If organizations are truly interested in retaining and advancing women, they will approach the issue of gender bias the same way they do other business issues: develop objective metrics and hold themselves to meeting them.” 

Without a doubt, some young women have experienced sexism within their STEM classrooms and workplaces. However, instead of adamantly claiming an entire field is sexist, we cannot judge the field for its few bad individuals. There can definitely be sexist people in STEM but this is true across all fields.

There are now regulations on the books to force women into board spots in certain companies. How will forcing women into corporate positions help the so-called gender bias? They are now token women who did not earn their spots at the company. As a woman in STEM, I am insulted. I would not want to accept a position I did not earn. How would you feel if a man got a job simply because of his sex? That would be unthinkable, so why is it encouraged for women?  

If people truly want equal gender representation they must be willing to shake up fields women already dominate. An astonishing 90% of nurses are female. 80% of healthcare workers are female. What about teaching? Women dominate that field, making up 97% of preschool and kindergarten teachers and 86% of special needs teachers. STEM has been encouraged to young women for decades, yet they are still electing to pursue nursing and teaching. If enforcing gender quotas in STEM is the goal, the process of achieving it forces some women away from the jobs they want to pursue. Which is more empowering: girls shaking up the “boy’s club” or young women having the choice to pursue whatever career they want?

It’s easy to blame others for the difficulty we might face in STEM; it would be better just to admit STEM subjects simply provide a cutthroat career path. Some abstract masculinity is not subverting the admission of women into the field. In fact, quite the opposite is occurring as women are actively hounded to migrate to STEM. Sure the gender proportion in STEM classrooms is not equal, but what is more important is the freedom for each student, male or female, to elect whatever field he or she desires.

Taylor Hunt is a third-year agricultural engineering student who advocates for the farming community. With her spare time, she stays busy writing for Lone Conservative, hiking, working, and playing with her baby cousin.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Taylor Hunt

Modesto Junior College

Taylor Hunt is a third-year agricultural engineering student who advocates for the farming community. With her spare time, she stays busy writing for Lone Conservative, hiking, working, and playing with her baby cousin.

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