GENDER INEQUALITY ARISES AMONG SCHOOL DESKS
The gender gap in the tech sector and STEAM originates even before entering the
It is not uncommon to say that gender inequality arises among school desks. This
phrase certainly does not indicate the existence of a gender gap in terms of level of education –
which according to the latest data has been almost zero – but rather the process of horizontal
segregation in “more feminine” disciplinary areas than others. This boundary line that is
drawn throughout the educational period, from elementary school to university, determines
many of the job choices that girls will make in their future careers.
To date, most people still have a common misconception that technology is a “man’s
thing”. In the choice of their professional training the figures speak for themselves: Italian
women who choose a STEAM training are regularly fewer in number than men: they account
for 40% of STEAM graduates.
Unconscious bias (or cognitive prejudices) are unconscious mechanisms that affect our
judgment, that is, the stereotypes and prejudices that we are all subject to in an unconscious
way, that we need to recognize the reality we live in and to relate to it. The incidence of this
prejudice is enormous and manifests itself from an early age: the entertainment industries
offer products differentiated by gender with a marked preference for technological games for
males rather than females.
At school age, it is noted that teachers are systematically biased in evaluating the
performance of boys and girls in mathematics and science, subjects that mostly effectively
improve digital skills. For the same reason families tend to underestimate the skills of their
daughters in quantitative subjects; inevitably girls can end up developing anxiety and panic
towards mathematics and technology. The lack of so-called “role models” or inspirational
models to look at is one of the reasons why today we struggle to have a balanced
representation in the world of tech and STEAM, and it is therefore important to work to build
this narrative, bring and tell more and more female models in these areas. Even when we talk
about access to the same opportunities for growth and career, especially in some areas, the
gap and inequalities, still due to stereotypes rooted in society, are very much felt. According
to the VALORED4STEM research, two thirds of women with a STEAM qualification have
identified in their soft skills (in particular determination, curiosity, but also a spirit of
sacrifice) the necessary characteristics to succeed in this course of study.
We are entering a technological revolution that will transform the way we live and
work, and we need to make sure that this change is truly transformative and inclusive for
everyone, including women. Lifelong learning, therefore, also for adult women, who are
already working, is a fundamental step.
Plan International claims that in order to have an economically strong generation, the
foundations must be laid at an early age to enable young people to have access to all the
opportunities they need to fulfil their ambitions and realise their rights and potential.
VALORED4STEM Ricerca Survey Giugno 2021 Valore D
“Il divario digitale di genere” (Università Bocconi e Plan International con il supporto
di UniCredit Foundation)
Talents Venture and STEAMiamoci Report 2020
Image by Freepik