Busting the Stem Myth

A new report released by the Office of the Chief Scientist dispels and debunks the damaging myths about Women in STEM.

The paper is part of a series written on recent developments in scientific research which are then made accessible for the general public.

Titled ‘Busting myths about Women in STEM’, the report highlights the need for ongoing action in supporting women to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sectors.

There are four myths the paper dispels:

  1. Girls are bad at maths;
  2. Most women are disinterested in careers in engineering, physics and ICT;
  3. The gender pay gap doesn’t exist; and
  4. The battle against sexism in science has been won.

The paper also considers the pervasive elements of childhood and the role played by the Australian education system in perpetuating the notion that women are not inclined towards STEM career options. For example, gender bias and stereotyping begins when kids are young, where 2/3 of children between ages 9 to 11 draw a draw a man when asked to draw a scientist.

A Story of Attribution: © Office of Chief Scientist, Australian Government.

While the paper demonstrates that women are just as capable, industrious and talented as men in STEM, factors such as the gender pay gap and workplace discrimination act as strong deterrents. Not to mention the deep societal and institutional roots that undermine the most systemic gender discrimination.

What is the solution?

The paper recommends a few solutions (like encouraging institutions to be active in improving access to STEM, and recommending regularly reporting sexual harassment in science), however recognises there is no one strategy to fix the leak. It is about changing systems and processes which enable the way the world has functioned.

You can read the publication and associated references here.


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