Gender inequity in STEM education and careers not only impacts women, but also has a ripple effect across society. A lack of gender equity in STEM limits women’s earning potential, compounds shortages of technical talent, and stifles innovation. In the United States, the gender gap in STEM appears early in life, and it persistently shows up along education and career pathways with each transition diminishing the likelihood that a woman will work and thrive in a STEM field.
Despite comparable levels of achievement in science and mathematics in K-12 education, by middle school, boys are already twice as likely to show interest in a science or engineering-related job; by college they are five times more likely to choose a STEM career path. In the STEM workplace, male-dominated company cultures, lack of women’s representation at leadership levels, and gender biases hinder the successful retention and progression of women in STEM careers. In recent years, the pandemic has exacerbated these trends and we have seen women in STEM fields leaving the workforce at twice the rate of women in other sectors. Additionally, women entrepreneurs face significant barriers to starting STEM focused ventures, with women in technology less likely to be awarded grants, qualify for loans or credit products, or to receive equity-based funding than their male-counterparts. In order for the STEM field to effectively design solutions for everyone, it is critical for women to figure more prominently in this landscape.
While government action and sound policies play a critical role in addressing these challenges, so does strong engagement from the public and private sector. To that end, Tiger Global Impact Ventures and MIT Solve are seeking to support US-based solutions that address barriers and unlock the untapped potential of girls and women in STEM across the country. Solutions should include one or more of the following focus areas:
- Support K-12 educators in effectively teaching and engaging girls in STEM in classroom or afterschool settings;
- Ensure continuity across STEM education in order to decrease successive drop-off in completion rates from K-12 through undergraduate years;
- Create a more inclusive STEM workplace culture including through improving pay transparency, decreasing bias in hiring and promotion, introducing and upholding healthy behaviors and organizational role models, and/or bolstering wraparound supports for workers who are caregivers;
- Enable women STEM entrepreneurs to participate and thrive in the entrepreneurial ecosystem by providing access to capital, resources, or network-building, or diversifying the investor landscape.
Proposed solutions are encouraged to recognize the importance of intersectionality and the compounding nature of sexual orientation and gender identity, racial demographics, disability status and other dimensions of diversity.