When discussing the importance of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers, the focus often lies on creating a more diverse workplace. But in order to better understand why women in STEM fields matter, one must look at the impact that women have in STEM fields. Increasing the presence of women within these careers can drastically improve the health and safety of medicine and technology for the rest of women in society.
Women’s Representation in STEM Fields
The role of women in STEM careers has experienced growth since the 1970s, but the percentage of women in STEM fields in 2011 was only 26 percent. That might be better than the paltry 7% of the STEM workforce that women inhabited in 1970, but it still depicts women as a minority in these fields.
Women in Health Fields
The greatest argument for their importance can be found by examining the critical role women in the health fields play in correctly diagnosing other women. For decades, women who went to Emergency Rooms complaining of heart attack symptoms that did not match their male counterparts’ symptoms had their concerns dismissed. Likewise, recommended dosages and side effects have been historically based on trials focused on men. This has left women suffering from greater side effects than men.
Women’s Understanding of Their Reproductive Health
One area of the sciences that women seem to have an advantage over their male colleagues was in understanding their reproductive cycles. Women working in STEM fields are able to use their understanding of the female body to help come up with new technologies and sciences designed around the female reproductive system.
The Benefits to The Whole Population
While women certainly stand to benefit from the involvement of other women in STEM fields, they are not the only ones who stand to reap the rewards of women being better represented in these fields. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, achieving better gender diversity in STEM fields could increase the national GDP by up to $28 trillion.
Ultimately, increasing the role of women in STEM fields is desirable because it enhances the lives of other women. By having women in these fields, the interests, health, and differences of half of the population can be more widely taken into account.