Women underrepresented in STEM

AccuWeather's Dexter Henry takes a look at why women are underrepresented in STEM and that continued push for representation.

Video Transcript

DEXTER HENRY: Historically, studies have shown low participation among women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. According to the Pew Research Center, women's representation in STEM decreased from 32% in 1990 to 25% in 2018.

ERIN CECH: It's a very complicated issue. Some of it has to do with people's own decision making and what they're confident about. And a lot of it has to do with the kinds of cultural issues that people are encountering all along the way.

DEXTER HENRY: Those issues can arise early, says Erin Cech, sociologist at the University of Michigan. She has studied why women are underrepresented in STEM careers.

ERIN CECH: Those things start at K-12 education. So the kinds of-- kinds of skills that boys and girls are thought to be good at and encourage tend to be slightly different. So math, medical, and science ability is more encouraged in boys than it is in girls.

DEXTER HENRY: Felicia Bowser knows the feeling of not being encouraged at a young age all too well.

FELICIA BOWSER: One teacher said, oh, you know, maybe-- maybe you should maybe be a homemaker. Maybe you should be a teacher.

DEXTER HENRY: But she followed her passion for meteorology and now is the warning-coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Jackson, Mississippi. Bowser also works with Women in Science Endeavors, encouraging young women.

FELICIA BOWSER: Some of the things that we do is outreach. And we go out to schools to urban, rural locations in order to kind of promote STEM and to talk about the importance of possibly majoring into it.

DEXTER HENRY: The decreasing numbers of women in STEM fields like meteorology have some looking for answers to increase diversity, while they push the conversation forward.

ERIN CECH: --making sure that women recognize that they-- that they are and should be full citizens in participation in STEM, and being willing to fight individually and collectively to be respected, and to have their voices heard is really important. And I think something that's ramping up, too.

DEXTER HENRY: Bowser believes programs like WISE, along with the representation of meteorologists like her and other women in STEM, will always matter. Reporting for AccuWeather, I'm Dexter Henry.