According to Forbes magazine in 2012, women only make up 18% - 20% of the STEM-Science, Technology, Engineering and Math- career fields.
I am currently working on my Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and there are not very many females in my career field. I have to say that sometimes it is fun to surprise people because many people do not expect me to be in this field of study. This really points out the fact that we really need more women in this and other STEM career fields.
Forbes also published that women get paid lower, on average, then get paid less than men do and that the more women that are in a career field, the more the pay gap closes . Engineering has always been more male dominated, but I really think that this can change and we can level the playing field if women start pursuing these careers.
In my engineering class alone, we have already blown away the stats! There was only one girl in the class prior to mine and now my class has eight female students out of 30 total.
Most people are very surprised when they find out that I am an electrical engineer because I am a female and they automatically assume I am super smart for a girl. However, it is not the amount of intelligence that makes someone a good engineer, it is their mindset. Once had a teacher tell me that more men are prone to be engineers because they are more confident than women; thus men naturally have confidence that they can “figure it out” so they do . Women are more likely to assume that they are not smart enough to tackle the problems, so they give up much more quickly. Women sell themselves short by doubting themselves, and do not even try to figure out what engineering has to offer.
The best mathematicians are people that never give up until they solve the problem. The awesome thing about math and engineering is there is always a right answer and it is universal. I really love that all math teachers agree on what the right answer is. It is not objective, so you don’t have to listen to someone tell you that really the better choice of word is “ecstasy” not “happiness”.
My Path to Math
When I was elementary school, my best friend was super smart and even skipped a grade. I wanted to be like her and make the same grades as her. I remember being terrible at handwriting and when it came down to it, the teacher decided which one looks prettier.I did not like that my grade was very much left up to the teacher’s idea of pretty. That’s when I realized I might not be able to get the same grades as my best friend in most subjects; I wasn’t terribly good at picking out which facts to memorize in history. Yet, I found that math was simply a matter of practicing and I had complete control over it, and the teacher really had no say as to what the right answer is. My first piece of advice is:
LEARN YOUR MATH BASICS!
It really just takes practice over and over again and soon you will get better and faster until it is second nature. I really was not the best at math in my school; there were plenty of kids that really kicked my butt in it. But I always knew I was capable of doing it even if I wasn’t as perfect as everyone else and that was the key: I believed that I was good at it. It is never too late to learn your basics, you are never too old. You could set some goals for yourself on how many math problems that you solve in a given amount of time with a movie, ice cream or a new set of clothes! I challenge you to try it and obtain that feeling of satisfaction, when you realize that you are capable of doing it!
My Path to Engineering
In high school, I seemed to be very far ahead the other kids in math because I knew my basics so well that I was able to really concentrate on the hard stuff without having to worry about the basics. Moreover, I always had people telling me that I was good at math and I personally believed that I was really good at math. Here are some classes that I took that really helped me on my path to becoming an engineer.
- Pre-Calculus and Calculus AP
- Physics Pre-AP and AP (Really great for Mechanical and Electrical Engineering!)
- Statistics AP (Most colleges require some stats for all majors)
- Computer Science AP (Really awesome for Computer and Electrical Engineering)
- Economics AP (Helped combine reasoning with Math)
I know that not all high schools offer these classes and you don’t have to take these to become and engineer; however, Calculus is going to be the most beneficial to help you get into an engineering program in college. Moreover, you can take classes at a community college if these are not offered, during school or the summer. I would go talk to you school counselor to see what opportunities are available to you, there may even be options to avoidpaying out of your own pocket. Either way, really try to enroll yourself in really technical classes; I know that Chemistry AP would also be a great one!
Case for Engineering
When applying for medical school, people are not looking for an undergraduate degree in Biology. They want more well-rounded people and one of the top degrees they look for is one in engineering because they know that you contain the capacity to problem solve. Even if you want to become a manager companies are looking for engineers because they have proven that they have that capacity. I have a friend here who is an electrical engineer and obtained an internship at WALL STREET for a summer.During his interview they did not ask him the simple brain teaser questions that they usually ask because they knew he already has the capacity to problem solve because of his electrical engineering undergraduate degree! It is now more advantageous to gain an engineering degree to do jobs that are not engineering. Architecture is another example. More companies are hiring engineers for their architect positions rather than people with degrees in architecture because of their multitude of skills. Gabriella, the One Spirit blogger is majoring in Computer Information Systems, and because of her technical experience and problem solving abilities, she has interviewed for multiple marketing and sales positions. If it weren’t for her ability to logically think, Gabriella wouldn’t have been considered even for the first interview; a lot of marketing majors are missing this important skill needed. It is important to be able to learn the product; grasp how it works, know the specs behind it appropriately, and comprehend the product’s capabilities compared to the competitors. Being able to distinguish these differences, rather than memorizing the brochure, will open up many different doors of opportunities for you potential career path, but having that logic based from math is the vital piece to the puzzle.
In closing, there will always be jobs for STEM career paths! America is really lacking in STEM careers compared to India, China, and Japan , but the job market is really in high demand for them; leading to better pay and job security! Moreover, if you would like to have a family one day, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to choose from, wherever you end up!