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Gamer Girl: There should be more women in STEM fields

It’s no secret that there are a small number of women in the STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — fields.

The National Girls Collaborative Project reported that while women received 50 percent of all engineering bachelor’s degrees in 2011, they received far fewer degrees in the computer science fields than men.

Women are also estimated to make up 13 percent of engineering careers and 25 percent of math and computer sciences, according to the NGCP. Mechanical engineering had the lowest percentage, with 7.2 percent of the workers being women.

There’s also a gender pay gap. According to a 2009 study from the U.S. Department of Commerce, men in STEM fields earned, on average, $36.34 per hour, while women earned $31.11 per hour doing the same work. That adds up to $200 more money for men per week — a substantial difference in pay.

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This is a problem. But the good news is that there are initiatives trying to break the stereotype and get women into the field — even the White House is trying to help.

“... We need to have more girls interested in math, science and engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent … not being encouraged the way they need to,” President Barack Obama said in March 2013.

One of the things I think is neat is targeting younger girls with toys geared toward them that increase interest in the field. One of the most popular is GoldieBlox. The company produces kits that provide girls with building sets to get them thinking like an engineer. Most of them come with a story that the child can follow along with. The Goldie character is also pretty awesome — she wears overalls, Converse and a tool belt.

I think ideas like this are a great way to get girls interested in the field. Most young girls — like I was — are used to the typical “pink toys” like Barbies, stuffed animals and Polly Pockets. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I think it’s great that toys are being created that can help girls build skills that they can use later in life. There are tons of these kinds of things on the market already (like LEGOs), but they’re generally targeted for boys.

Better yet, GoldieBlox was created by a female. It’s nice to see that there are small steps being made to encourage girls to take a look into STEM fields. The fields need them.

Sophie Kruse is a junior studying journalism. Email her at or tweet her @kruseco.

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