LW_Mag_WINTER_FINAL (1) (2014) - Page 7

GIVING. PRAYING. FASTING 7 in physical sciences, 5.2% of bachelor’s degrees in mathematics, and 4.9% of bachelor’s degrees in computer sciences. They also earned 3.9% of doctorate degrees in science and engineering. In addition, women continue to be underrepresented in the field of engineering. In addition, girls are not taking as many physics and engineering courses at levels K through 12, although they are taking many high level courses in mathematics and science at similar rates as their male peers and are generally performing well. Conversely, according to a 2012 report by NSF, minority and low-income students continue to experience achievement gaps in mathematics and science. Gilbert thinks the culprit may be a hostile environment and not the perceived capabilities of girls and young women. “So, I think the traditional engineering environment is typically characterized … as male-dominating. It’s typically characterized as isolating, very competitive, so I think it’s- the work-we can handle-the technical work, the math, the subjects we can handle, but, often times, the cultural environment can be a factor that pushes [us] out and I think that that’s where we need those supportive systems to help us to not only to [sic] gain our interest but to support us throughout the process as well,” said Gilbert, who says minority women experience an even greater isolation than the norm. Gilbert also faults traditional societal norms with wittingly and unwittingly discouraging girls and women from pursuing careers in S.T.E.M. fields. “I think it’s a cultural ‘thing.’ I think it’s a perception ‘thing.’ And, I also think it’s not tied to interest. So, I think that if it were tied to things that were of interest to young girls and young girls of color, then more young girls would pursue it. I can say definitely when I was coming up, it was thought of [as] more so what men could t that-a rarity in most S.T.E.M. fields.