Ever heard of the Gender Equality Paradox? Take 30 minutes and listen to neuroscientist Gina Rippon, author of the bestseller The Gendered Brain, explain what it is and what’s stopping women in the UK being part of STEM. Watch Gina ‘s presentation from the day and download her slides here.
The UK’s gender gap in STEM is closing – slowly, very slowly, today, less than a quarter of UK STEM roles are filled by women. On this current trajectory, we still won’t have reached 30% women by the end of this decade. We are not alone in this, it is a problem we share with other leading economies.
Some people say, “Maybe STEM is just better suited to males. Maybe it doesn’t really matter that there’s a gender gap – women are choosing not to get into STEM, and that’s only natural.”
However, this isn’t borne out by evidence which shows that there is a Gender Equality Paradox in STEM. This means the more equal men and women are in a society, the less equal the numbers of men and women in STEM roles. Clearly, there’s nothing innately stopping women in countries like Iran and Indonesia from pursuing successful careers in STEM – so what’s stopping women in the UK?
The answer was given with fantastic wit and (more importantly!) a barrage of evidence by neuroscientist Gina Rippon, author of the recent bestseller The Gendered Brain, in her session at the 2019 WISE Conference.
As Gina explained, throughout history women’s brains have been used to explain why they can’t or won’t do things – in some cases, with evidence shaped to fit society’s narrative for what a woman’s place ought to be. In the case of STEM, reasons given include women having the wrong skills, the wrong temperament and the wrong preferences to be inclined towards STEM. However, our brains are plastic – they are moulded to fit the world around us.
There’s nothing innate about UK women’s disinclination towards STEM. Why not give Gina’s informative, engaging and very thought-provoking Conference session a watch – and see how it reshapes your brain.