Fewer girls opting for maths, tech a worry: Melinda Gates
Fewer women are choosing to study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects that offer the best jobs, and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the US$ 39.6 billionendowed Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wants to change that.
“Computer science offers the best jobs in the economy. The technology sector is connected to all industry, it offers great pay and the best opportunities, and girls are losing points by not studying STEM subjects,” said Gates, in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times.
In the US, the number of women opting for STEM in grad school has halved over three decades and while women make up more than 51% of the workforce, they hold 26% of computing-related jobs, shows US Department of Labour data.
“I am a computer science major myself, and when I was in grad school in the ‘80s, 37% computer science grads were women. Now it’s down to 18%,” says Gates, saying India, with its powerful tech industry, must work to make sure it doesn’t go the US way. There is no rigorous data on why girls are not choosing or dropping out of STEM in the US, but Gates is working on getting it. “I can’t speak for India but girls in the US are not choosing science at grade, middle school, high school and undergraduate levels because when they look at the industry, it doesn’t look welcoming,” she says.