Trending #ShecanSTEM sheds light on need for more females in STEM careers


Emily Miller

Students in Mike Roark’s AP Physics C class participate in a projectile design lab. “About 50% are female in my first year Physics class; however, about ⅔ of my second year class are males,” Roark said. With the hashtag “She can STEM” trending there’s a national push to get more females in STEM careers.

“She can STEM” has been trending on social media platforms for a few months. The hashtag celebrates women who are leading the world through science, technology, engineering and mathematics – subjects that women weren’t always welcomed in. Over the years, even though the percentage of women in STEM has grown, women are still underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. 

“We know that women make up 50% of the college-educated workforce, but they are only currently holding 25% of the STEM jobs,” Ad Council Chief Campaign Development Officer Michelle Hillman said in an interview with NBC News.

To break that norm, AISD and AHS in particular offer many STEM based classes ranging from honors math to engineering. But still, females in those classes are underrepresented. 

Women have as much capability as men to come up with something that can change the world.”

— Leslie Gamez

“About 50% are female in my first year Physics class; however, about ⅔ of my second year class are males,” Mike Roark, AP Physics teacher, said.

AISD even opened a STEM Academy at Martin High School where students are given the opportunity to earn high school and college credit by taking courses that are specifically STEM based. Even though the STEM Academy is located at Martin, students from all over the district are able to take classes there. 

“Martin’s STEM Academy is going on its second year and there are 122 students enrolled in it, so clearly they are bringing attention to STEM,” Roark said.

But even with the abundance of STEM offerings, many engineering classes on campus are still male dominated. 

“I have 150 students,” Miguel Picart, engineering teacher, said. “Twenty-seven of them are female students.”

With the hashtag trending and the media covering more stories about females in STEM jobs the question becomes, what more can schools do.

“I think we should offer all-girl engineering classes to recruit more females,” Picart said. “Civil Engineering is a class that women are statistically drawn to. It focuses on infrastructure and design that affects the environment. We can definitely offer that.”

Roark, whose own daughter works for Lockheed Martin, agrees females are needed in STEM careers.

“Women bring a different perspective which is critical in the workplace,” he said. “Diversity is something that we desperately need in this day and age.”

In addition to promoting these classes on campus, parents can also do their part by encouraging their daughters to sign up for STEM classes.

“I have two daughters who I encourage to try STEM out,” Picart said. “We take them to the Perot Museum which has a floor full of engineering work. Fearless girls are threats so it’s our job to make them believe that they are fearless.”

With a concerted effort in schools and national recognition through the Ad Council, there is hope that the statistics of women in STEM jobs will change.

“Women have as much capability as men to come up with something that can change the world,” Leslie Gamez, senior, said. “It’s important to be inclusive of all people in engineering because creativity knows no gender.”