Gender Discrimination STEM Students Face in Universities

Gender Discrimination STEM Students Face in Universities
  • Opening Intro -

    For generations, women were considered the keepers of the home and men the keepers of employment and income.


In addition, women have long been socialized to avoid positions of leadership and strength. Turning that trend around will require our society to revamp what the traditional characteristics of women and men should be.


Studies indicate that women tend to back away from STEM fields as early as first grade. Six year old girls tend to be drawn toward games that require hard work but are more likely to believe that boys can be brilliant. Gender representation continues to be a challenge when encouraging girls to take an interest in the sciences.

When girls look to the leadership of scientific advancement, the roles tend to be filled by men. In addition, many generations of women were not encouraged to self-promote.

Meekness and mildness have been considered virtues for women for centuries. Stepping up in confidence and saying, “I can do that!” is a new skill for many women.


Gender discrimination can be extremely subtle. A woman who’s unhappy about a work situation may find her concerns are disregarded because she’s being irrational while a man’s viewpoint may get another look. Women are more likely to be interrupted in meetings with colleagues.

They may receive compliments that are more of a pat on the head than a true representation of their capabilities or skills. Each of these on its own is simply an irritation, but over time they work to keep women in the places defined for them in the 19th century as keepers of hearth and home.

Perceived Discrimination

While gender discrimination law dictates that this form of discrimination is illegal, the commonly held viewpoint that STEM is not a friendly field for women has also contributed to women avoiding this field. Higher education takes a lot of work and can be quite expensive; if you have the ability and interest in a field that’s less likely to discriminate against you, why open yourself to the perceived discrimination of STEM?

Sexual Harassment

It would be comforting to think that blatant forms of gender abuse such as sexual harassment are also a part of the 19th century. Unfortunately, some men in positions of power will always feel that they have the right to ownership and control of those around them. If the culture of the organization supports the degradation of women, harassers are empowered.

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In the developed world, it’s fair to say that things are getting better for women. However, gender bias and discrimination are subtle and destructive. While blatant sexual abuse is more likely to be exposed now than in the past, there’s still work to be done.

Image Credit: gender discrimination by Pixabay

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Categories: Campus Safety