Why aren't more young women pursuing careers in the 'hard sciences,' like computer science and engineering? That's what Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College, has been wondering and researching for much of her career.
PBS NewsHour's Judy Woodruff interviewed Klawe about her experiences bringing more young women into science fields. Klawe said girls often have an image that working with computers and building things are "boy things" that aren't desirable for women. In fact, Klawe says, designing games and websites and working in computer-based platforms can be incredibly fun for women and open a lot of doors for them - if they're introduced to it early in their academic careers.
Klawe adds that science fields offer big economic opportunities for women, chances to travel and rewarding career paths, and what's lacking are teachers and mentors who show them that those career paths are available to them.
"Unfortunately, we graduate many fewer scientists and engineers and mathematicians than our competitors do. So, I truly believe that, if we are to have the kind of future that we have had in the past, we have to address getting more young people to major in those areas. We have to improve our math and science teaching in our schools." - Maria Klawe, president, Harvey Mudd College
"If you do a (science) program at the middle school level, and you get girls interested, they've got another four years of high school for peer pressure to get them disinterested again. And it mostly happens." - Maria Klawe, president, Harvey Mudd College
1. What kinds of careers are available in the sciences?
2. What is a “gender gap?”
3. How do you feel about science at school? Do you like it? Why or why not?
1. What did Ms. Klawe say are the two reasons why so few women go into computer science and engineering fields?
2. What do you think is the answer to making these fields more attractive to young women? What about to everyone?
3. Why do you think computer science, engineering and physics are known as "hard sciences?" Are you drawn to those fields? Why or why not?
Why Engineering, Science Gender Gap Persists: