Women in STEM: Why Are There So Few?

Before We Begin:


Catalyst Conference Brief

Why have I chosen this topic, and why should you care about it? Here is my topic pitch, as a short video:

Topic: Women in STEM

Problem: There are a disproportionate amount of women working in STEM fields. How can we educate others on the causes and solutions for this gender imbalance, as well as their unequal treatment within the field?

User Needs: Designing an infographic with statistics that describe the big problem (gender imbalance) and its causes (harassment, wages, societal norms). Include excerpts on what is it like to be a woman who is looking to go into STEM, or is currently working in it. Lastly, include efforts that are being made to protect and support women in STEM and encourage girls to consider such fields as options. I may also conduct surveys through google forms to gauge the average student’s perception on these issues, and their opinions

Alternatives: A poster with fewer stats and more descriptions, along with resources for women/girls who are into STEM. Like a poster you’d hang up at school.

Research – 10 facts

  1. “Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs.” (esa)
  2. “Women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering.” (esa)
  3. “Women with a STEM degree are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation; they are more likely to work in education or healthcare.” (esa)
  4. “There are many possible factors contributing to the discrepancy of women and men in STEM jobs, including: a lack of female role models, gender stereotyping, and less family-friendly flexibility in the STEM fields” (esa)
  5. “According to the latest Office for National Statistics figures from August 2014, there are 723,000 male “information technology and telecommunications professionals” in the UK, compared with 124,000 women.” (alphr)
  6. “Microsoft, for example, boasts 29% female workers across its staff, but in technical positions only 17% are women. Of Google’s senior management and executive officer team, 17 are male while only three are women. Men make up 83% of Google’s engineering staff; Apple’s technical team is 80% male.” (alphr)
  7. ““Women continue to leave the industry because it’s so toxic,” said Randi Harper, a developer and engineer. “Trying to get more women to go to school for STEM [science, technology, engineering, maths] is the wrong approach; we need to attack the problem of fixing the environment to make it a place where they can stay.” (alphr)
  8. ““A woman’s ideas will be shot down without even being considered, and the men who are doing this don’t even realise they’re doing so because she’s a woman,” said Harper. “If you don’t have rock-solid self-esteem, it’s going to wear you down over time. Women start to think that their ideas aren’t great, and this is going to keep them from going after promotions, from thinking that they should ask for the same amount of money as their male co-workers. Eventually, given enough time, women will just drop out entirely.” (alphr)
  9. “STEM jobs are expected to grow 17%, between 2008 and 2018, compared to just 9.8% for non-STEM ones. Excluding women from these fields hurts both the companies in need of the best talent and society, which depends, for its economic and general expansion, on both halves of the workforce being encouraged and able to drive innovation. And that’s where great role models come into play, not to prove that since it can be done you have to do it, but to remind everyone that if you are passionate about what you do, you can find your own little way to change things for the better.” -“It’s really hard to imagine what you can’t see” said Chelsea Clinton” (huffington)
  10. “Only 11 of 60 members of the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame are women (18 per cent); 22 out of 186 prizes worth more than $200,000 were given to women by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) between 2004-14 (12 per cent); and 23 out of 202 people named to the Royal Society of Canada’s Academy of Sciences in the past four years were female (11 per cent). Many people still buy into the theory that most women forgo a career in STEM because they can’t, or won’t, juggle home and work. But unlike previous experimental studies done in labs, a recent U.S. survey of 557 female scientists in the workplace—60 of whom were interviewed in depth—confirms the existence of a career pipeline that steadily leaks qualified female candidates due to inherent and persistent biases.” (maclean’s)

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Catalyst Conference Planning Part 2: Research, Commentary and Prototyping

1. The importance of the local issue is defined within the presentation.
It’s critical that you help the audience understand why you think this is an important issue.

As a female student who is looking to pursue an education (and likely a career) in engineering in university next year, I want draw attention to the unequal treatment of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) as well as the disproportionate number of women currently in STEM fields. By organizing research and data I aim to educate as many kinds of people as possible. This includes people who currently work in STEM to reevaluate the conditions of their position and workplace, as well as those who don’t work in those fields to educate them on the gender imbalance in STEM. I also hope to gear my project to prospective girls who are considering STEM fields study as a means to empower them and their interests, as I would’ve liked to have received the same when I was younger.

2. A clear strategy for catalyzing change is identifiable.
Within your presentation be sure to clearly identify how you create change to address the issue.

I am going to create an informative infographic with excerpts from interviews with my peers (fellow female students looking to study in STEM)

3. Presentations demonstrate an anticipation that visitors may have limited background knowledge on their topic.
Your audience for these presentations will be diverse and most people will not have expert-level knowledge of your issue.  Be sure to take this into account when designing your content.

As mentioned in my response to Question 1, my project is aimed at a very wide audience to spread awareness on this issue from those who have no associations with working in STEM to prospective students who are looking to study in those fields.


Catalyst Conference Planning Part 3: Further Developing Layouts

I drafted 5 different layout considerations as well as sketched out some assets to see how they would occupy the page. I actually quite like the computer and woman-at-desk illustration so I will be cleaning those up to use in my final.

Here is the development of my final design. I decided to incorporate the elements that I liked the best in my drafts, such as the graphs and placements of the icons. I ended up choosing the brownish color scheme for the background, as I thought the pink was too striking. I did use it sparingly in the final design, however.


Women in STEM Infographic Final

I reworked some of my file based on the feedback I’ve received, particularly:

– changing color and font for readability (middle box).
– make the words on graph a bit bigger so it is more readable.
– banner title longer and stretch it out across the screen and center name
– align STEM acronym like industry title section
– fix typos
– stretch out bottom two boxes
– just generally making everything a bit bigger for readability

Here is my final:


Share this project
  1. April 27, 2018 by Annie Ballard

    Hey Peggy!
    I love your project! I completely agree with all the point you have made, and I hope today’s youth will continue to push society to improve by encouraging girls to pursue STEM fields. Personally, Science and Math are my favorite subjects, and I hope to study Physics or Cosmology when I go to college. Overall, I really liked your presentation and I hope you continue to advocate for girls as you begin your career in Engineering. Good luck in College!

  2. April 27, 2018 by Chloe.Rimmerman

    Peggy- I really enjoyed your website! I think that the gender disparity in STEM fields needs to be addressed- and I was very excited to see your website on the front page 🙂 Your infographics were eye-opening and visually stunning. I hope to see more of your work!

  3. May 02, 2018 by McKenzie Minto

    Peggy, this is such a great project! I can tell you put a lot of work in to it. Last summer I was accepted to a free coding camp for teenage girls. Since then, my eyes have really been opened to the gender gap in stem fields and everything many organizations are doing to counteract these disparities. I’m glad to see that a lot of young girls are getting more encouraged these days than they were even 5 years ago! I’m currently working with an organization called CoderGals to start teaching an after school coding program for elementary school girls at my local elementary school. Although they won’t be doing anything advanced, it’s the encouragement and the sparking of their interest in coding that really matters for the future. We are in an age of feminism, and gaining equal representation is a huge part of that. Thanks for your project.

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