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In the world I've noticed the gender gap is this something I should worry about?

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I've done some search ups and so far I've met seven male physic professors and one female chemistry professor honestly it's a little intimidating and I don't know what to make of it all my friends encourage me but i just don't know.... #physics #chemical-engineering #chemical-engineer #chemicals

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Sarah’s Answer

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Hi Lisamarie,

If you are interested in the subject, then I say go for it. I did Chemistry at University and now work for a global technology company that employs thousands of scientists both male and female.

With regards to the gender gap - yes that is something we should be concerned about but it is not a reason not to enter a profession.

There is much debate on the reasons for the gender gap in science and maths fields. Some studies indicate that girls are just as capable as boys at school and any differences in performance in these subjects may be linked to interest, expectations, encouragement and confidence rather than ability. Fewer girls studying STEM subjects during and after school impacts the number going on to STEM careers when other factors such as interest, flexibility, workplace environment and gender bias play a role in widening the gap.

I don't have experience in academia specifically but I am inspired by people like Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Dr. Fabiola Gianotti (CERN), Dr Seirian Sumner (Soapbox Science founder), Prof. Dame Carol Robinson (University of Oxford), Claire Vyvyan (Dell), Emma Walmsley (GSK) - they are part of the shift to a more diverse, balanced industry and the challenge we have now is to replicate this across all areas and levels of STEM. I have posted some articles and link below that might help you explore this topic further.

The other advice that I found useful is that everyone has been the minority in a group at some point and the best way to deal with it is to find a way to turn it to your advantage. For example, women tend to be more empathizing, this theory is controversial (http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zxhvmnb) but for the purposes of discussion we will assume it is correct, so if you are working with a group of men you may be able to offer a different perspective on a customer problem or employee problem - it is this diversity of thought that can make for richer insight and better decisions.

For me personally, I have found that being able to offer the softer skills that are sometimes associated with female personas (empathy, communication, caring, teamworking etc), as well as the skills that come from a technical degree (logical thinking, problem-solving, analytical skills) means that I am more versatile and able to take on a wider range of responsibilities which is a great asset to any career.

I wish you the best of luck - whatever you decide to do.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/27/women-scientist-firsts-last-decade_n_7367902.html http://fortune.com/2014/09/22/women-and-stem/ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/women-in-engineering/ http://www.stemgraduates.co.uk/women-in-stem http://www.npr.org/2016/06/15/482123559/research-explores-ways-to-overcome-stem-fields-gender-gap http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-health/11401344/STEM-Is-there-any-science-behind-the-lack-of-women-in-science.html http://www.doctorbrunner.com/groundbreaking-study-finds-boys-are-not-naturally-better-than-girls-at-math-but-your-daughter-may-be-more-anxious-about-math/ https://witness.theguardian.com/assignment/5253fb57e4b0099005df3644/597744 http://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/better_decisions_through_diversity

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thankyou so much this a very helpful respond it really helped me in making my decision

Kristen’s Answer

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Studying physics, there is one female professor in the entire department, and I never got to take one of her classes. And I have encountered some sexism but mostly it made the girls studying physics (out of eleven in my year, there were three of us) have a much closer bond and we ended up studying more together and helping each other out so I wouldn't worry so much about it being a male dominated field currently because you will find other women and we will change the future of STEM. Also lots of companies like to hire women because they are more rare.