Females with careers in STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—are vastly outnumbered by their male co-workers. That’s just a fact—according to the National Center for Education Statistics, only some 20 percent of women in the U.S. workforce are in STEM fields. STEM pervades every part of our lives, but included fields lack the perspectives of roughly half of the world’s population. What’s going on here? Are STEM education programs inhospitable to women? Is there a dearth of encouragement? A lack of opportunities? Gender bias? There are several environmental and social barriers to blame—many women have children in the middle of their careers, and care for ailing family members often falls to them—but STEM jobs are among America’s most rapid-growth sectors for middle- and upper-income careers. Including women in what many regard as a ladder to income stability isn’t an option—it’s a responsibility.
At Northern Kentucky University, there are approximately 200 female students and faculty members working hard to break the STEM ceiling. We spoke with a few about their research and experiences as women in STEM.