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No need to bridge gender gap

Underrepresentation does not equal discrimination

I am a girl who is interested in STEM.

It’s likely that this statement elicited some sort of reaction from you, as everywhere I go, there seems to be something promoting women getting into STEM. But by now, I am extremely tired of all of this.

I have seen so many things highlighting women who did significant things in history, who are “trailblazers,” or who are “the first woman to…” fill in the blank.

While it is fine and good that women are able to do these things, talking excessively about it seems to create the opposite of the intended effect – it suggests that it should be difficult for a woman to do these things, so the ones who do should be admired. If opportunities were truly equal, which seems like the goal, there wouldn’t be such a big distinction made between women who do something and men who do the same thing.

For example, when I went to listen to Eileen Collins, the first American woman to command a space mission, even though it seemed like she had been brought to speak because of all of her “first woman to…” accomplishments, it seemed to me that she didn’t like being so singled out from the rest of her crew just because she was a woman; she considered it a team effort and didn’t like that the rest of her crew seemed to be nearly ignored compared to her.

I understand that in the past being a woman in STEM was more difficult and notable than it is today, but I feel like now there is too much talk about “strong” women “balancing the gender gap” and “fighting against underrepresentation” (which is another example of effects being the opposite of their intentions; what an ordinary man can do requires a “strong” woman to do.)

In my experience, boys tend to be more interested in STEM careers than girls – similarly to how girls tend to be more interested in English and creative subjects than boys. I understand that there are many places where women legitimately cannot have STEM-based careers. However, in the US, there are very few examples where girls are discouraged from having these careers.

Many people draw the conclusion that since there is a gender gap in STEM areas, women are being discriminated against. However, just because there’s a difference in numbers that doesn’t match the demographics of an area doesn’t automatically mean that girls are being discriminated against, since they often are just more interested in other areas.

Just because there is not equal representation for women and men in STEM fields does not mean that girls should be encouraged more than boys to go into STEM. What’s important is that they both have equal opportunities to pursue these careers.

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