Gender Disparity in STEM Education


Photo by Allison Shelley for EDU

A high school girl mixes chemicals during a chemistry experiment.

Gender disparity is just one small factor which distinguishes one person from another, however, the effects that it has is immense. Throughout history, men and women have been stereotyped into different roles that they are viewed to play in society. Still to this day, there is a major gap between the education and opportunities that the two groups have.

Education is the development of the brain through systematic instruction, and in some cultures, certain people play particular roles in society and the education that they need varies. In some countries, women are expected to give birth to children, and at very young ages they are unable to get a proper education. The country with the lowest mean first time mothers: Angola has an average age of 18. In Angola, the average woman has 5.52 babies. If the average woman has 5.5 babies starting at the low age of 18, they will have to spend a lot of time with their children and they will not have time to go to work. Because of this, it doesn’t make sense to invest in women’s education expecting that they follow stereotypes and the men work. In Angola, there is a 26.56% gap between the literacy rates of men and women. 26.56% is more than ¼ of the population which is a significant difference. Angola is just one example of a country whose maternity plays a significant toll of Gender disparity in education.

Men and women through experimental studies have shown that there is no advantage in STEM to being a particular gender. Despite the natural equality, men are encouraged to pursue STEM more than women. According to AAUW, at the young age of 7-9 years old, a girl not getting enough positive reinforcement can push her away from enjoying and pursuing STEM education and careers. According to a study by AAUW, “When test administrators tell students that girls and boys are equally capable in math, however, the difference in performance essentially disappears” which directly shows that the learning environment plays a major role in the performance of students.

One of the major factors that influences a woman’s decision of what career to pursue is their desire to help others. 10/10 of the jobs with the highest percentage of women are hands-on jobs in which they are directly helping people. Women are stereotyped to be nurses, teachers, assistants, where they see their work directly affect people for the better. Women are thought to be more compassionate and caring than men, and when deciding their career, they often choose to help people in some way. Many STEM jobs such as researchers, engineers, computer science workers, and executives which hardly see the effects of their work are taken up by men. Men see these jobs as fun and rewarding, while their women counterparts don’t always see them as fulfilling. 

One of the biggest problems is the physical gender disparity in the population of countries. 49.584% of the world population is female, yet the United Arab Emirates has 26.7% women, Qatar has 27.4% women, Oman has 33.7% women, and Bahrain has 38% women. There are several reasons why these places have such low women. In UAE and Qatar, the population is based on a lot of immigrants which are predominantly men. In the UAE, people go to Dubai which is said to be the cosmopolitan capital of the world. Unmarried men move to Qatar to work in the oil fields. Additionally, with better abortion methods and the ability to figure out a child’s sex early on in pregnancy, people have abortions until they have a boy. Because of this, the percentage of men in some countries is significantly higher. With less women, they are not given as much of a voice, and are not able to get properly educated.

Women struggle to even get educated, and then they struggle even more to get the proper support to pursue STEM careers. In many countries, good education is expensive and limited, parents choose to send their boys to school who will be given better opportunities because of discrimination. Teachers have historically taught students that men are superior to girls in STEM, and led to girls choosing not to pursue math and other STEM fields. In some countries, girls are expected to bear children at young ages and expected to stay home and take care of them. For some reason, women historically make less money for the work that they do, and a man’s education can more likely lead to higher salaries in adult years. Women are not given the same opportunities that men are to achieve enlightenment.