STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills have been identified as necessary to remain economically competitive as a country, and many have pointed out that all of society benefits when diverse teams tackle technological and scientific problems. Yet, women are persistently underrepresented in many STEM fields, where the disparity begins in college classrooms. And, it has a historical basis.
Women’s underrepresentation in STEM fields is not a recent phenomenon. Historically, women’s formal educational opportunities limited access to the hard sciences and technology fields. Many women who were able to acquire formal education were subsequently denied employment or full employment in these areas. Generations of women struggled to achieve success in what were viewed as male domains.
LIFE Photo Collection
Little girl peering through microscope-type instrument, eyeballing N. Amer. Exhibit attraction (no caps), at Field Museum of Natural History