Just days ago, Victoria’s Secret model and programmer Lyndsey Scott drew flak on social media for being, well, a programmer. Netizens, particularly men, doubted her ability to program or code for the single reason that she is female. Lyndsey Scott brilliantly responded to her critics by enumerating her credentials including being the lead programmer for Apple.
Lyndsey Scott’s experience is an example of how stereotypes play a role in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). But unlike her, there are many girls out there that get discouraged because of these misconceptions. This is why it’s important to bust STEM misconceptions and find out the truth behind them!
Myth 1: STEM is for boys
According to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), there are more males than females who enroll in science and engineering courses. In fact, in 2016, only 29.3% of those who enrolled are females while 70.7% were males. Why is this so? There is a belief that boys are inherently better than girls in STEM subjects. While there is no scientific basis to back this up, many people follow this way of thinking. This is detrimental to the future of STEM in the country. By belittling girls’ abilities, we lose potential talent who can perhaps be the next Marie Curie of the country.
There are a number of women that young girls can look up to if they want to pursue STEM. Dr. Fe del Mundo is one of them. She was the first woman to be admitted into Harvard Medical School, and she founded the first pediatric hospital in the Philippines. She was also the first woman to be named as one of the Philippines’ National Scientists. Like Dr. Fe del Mundo, Dr. Regina Berba found success in the STEM field. Dr. Berba is currently an educator at the Philippine General Hospital and Medical City. In 2017, she, along with her colleagues, wrote a national framework and curriculum on how hospitals can reduce the risk of infections and epidemics in the country. This is now used to teach infection control in all public hospitals in the Philippines. If women like Dr. Fe del Mundo and Dr. Regina Berba can succeed in the STEM profession, there’s no reason for other girls not to do the same!
Myth 2: STEM is boring
Many students get discouraged from taking up STEM because it is seemingly boring. They assume that STEM leads to careers that are all dull research. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. STEM is an exciting field of study that offers people the chance to solve the world’s problems from as personal as the cellphone to global ones such as climate change. STEM offers students different opportunities and experiences such as fun experiments, field work, and collaborative projects. Although STEM careers, indeed, require a fair amount of research, it doesn’t mean that they’re boring!
Myth 3: You can’t be creative in STEM
Just because STEM is math- and science- heavy, it doesn’t mean that it lacks creativity! Well, just take a look at some of the innovative and creative designs in science fairs. You’ll be amazed at how art plays a vital role in STEM.
In fact, there’s a movement going on right now called STEAM where A stands for Art. One example of a STEAM profession is a video game developer. One needs creativity but also technical know-how to develop games. Conceptualizing the story and design requires artistic abilities, while coding and programming are learned through STEM.
STEM plays an important role in our society. This is why it’s important that there are students who study under the STEM strand or take up STEM degrees. By allowing ourselves to be free of stereotypes or misconceptions, we will encourage more students to enroll in STEM, ensuring us of a future that is built on science and technology.
Want to know more about STEM and what it can offer you? Check out STEM+ PH on Facebook to find out more!