An Open Letter to Young Women Considering STEM

Dear young women of the world,

Screw them. Do STEM.

I’m here to tell you that STEM is more than lab coats and test tubes. STEM revolutionises how you see the world. When you study STEM, plants and animals become extraordinary biological wonders, celestial bodies can be understood through equations and humanity’s limitations are expanded by innovative technologies. All this research bloomed from our curiosity as humans. Yet all this curiosity is seemingly encouraged only for men? I don’t think so. Screw that, do STEM.

Too many times I’ve heard women sigh about not having ‘the brains’ to do STEM, as if the average man does? No man is born smart, and certainly not smarter than a woman. STEM itself has taught us that there’s no physiological difference between men and women that makes one gender more suited to STEM than the other. We too have the right to build careers from our curiosity. I know I can speak for a lot of people in STEM when I say the experience is something truly powerful and beautiful. I honestly can’t even put into words how much I love STEM.

Now you may be thinking that perhaps women just aren’t interested in STEM. However, research shows that young women are being ‘pushed out of STEM’ from a young age because of widespread sexism rather than personal choices. Ingrained gender bias influences the subjects girls study from primary school right through to university – only 20% of university STEM graduates are women. To me, this is one of the biggest failures of our education system. The only solution to this is for women to push back.

This letter is an open call to young women for that push. A call to delve into our curiosity and thrive. To dream big and to make it a reality. To be free to unleash our minds in STEM. Besides, men already dominate the labs – do not let them dominate over your curiosity of the world too.

Sincerely,

Maninder Kaur

Maninder Kaur

Maninder is an 18-year-old first-year university student studying a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) majoring in microbiology and genomics at the University of Sydney. She is a passionate advocate for girls education, social justice, climate change and the rights of refugees. Maninder is a member of the YWCA Young Women’s Council.

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