Fewer girls opt­ing for maths, tech a worry: Melinda Gates

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - San­chita Sharma san­chi­tasharma@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

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