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Female Educational Leaders in Science and Technology

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Muniba Usman
Muniba Usmanhttps://scientiamag.org
Muniba Usman is a high school teacher and teaching trainer by profession. She has a BS (HONS) in Microbiology and a diploma in Textile and Fashion design. She has a strong passion for research, arts, reading and writing.  She has written many scientific articles and fiction stories for children.

Historically, the male-dominant culture prevailed in almost every educational field. That is why we have only a handful of female names in various fields. Stats and studies have been conducted extensively to highlight women’s challenges, fears and barriers in displaying prominent positions.

Several studies suggest that this is about more than just their contribution. Nevertheless, women are mostly underrated owing to their extraordinary participation in educational and academic perspectives and business, STEM fields, and social and political pursuits. 

Despite significant gains in several areas of science and technology, women still do not participate equally in all areas of STEM. According to fields like mathematics, geology and earth sciences, agriculture and horticulture, women are over-represented in biology and the social/psychological sciences. Nevertheless, gaps persist in physics, engineering, and computer science.

Barriers Faced by Women in Leadership Roles

Why do women feel underprivileged during their career development? To answer this, countless authors have highlighted the gendered culture within the institutions as a root cause to serve as the challenging barrier to women’s progress.

Individual Barriers

The career preferences, lifestyle choices and family obligations suggest the lack of participation of women in science fields, mainly because women do not want to work 80 hours per week and spend their lives in the lab.

In the flurry of media attention following this statement, one off-cited book was Women in Science by Xie and Shauman (2003). This heavily researched book discusses and examines several factors and reasons purported to hinder women. 

They dismiss several (research productivity, marriage, deficient backgrounds, among others) but show that career paths are affected by constrained choices. Societal constraints and pressures can and do force women to make ―choices that often distract or lead them away from STEM.

Institutional Challenges

Research studies conducted to investigate the cause of lagging women’s leadership suggest that from recruitment and selection to retirement, women struggle to navigate their careers in gender inequality atmospheres. Male dominance also influences daily working practices directly and indirectly. 

Moreover, covert and outright discrimination, implicit biases, and sexual harassment are some of the leading issues for women counterparts in institutions.

Lack of Role Models

Innate human psychology demands set footprints and torchbearers to follow. In the case of feminine leadership, the lack of role models and mentors also serves as one of the significant problems in encouraging women to enter technical fields. Most of the time, young girls are not presented with good examples of women in the STEM fields.

Research shows exposure to female STEM – increased positive attitudes, self-efficacy, and connection with the discipline for female college students

A study was conducted to test how the presence or absence of female role models or mentors affects women’s career preferences. Stout and colleagues (2010) showed that exposure to female STEM ―increased positive attitudes, self-efficacy, and connection with the discipline for female college students. 

A bulk of literature produced on improving women’s contribution to science emphasises the need for mentors and role models (Pritchard, 2006; AWIS, 1995). When examining the literature on barriers to women in leadership, one sees a remarkably similar theme to what one finds with women and STEM. In the literature contribution “Through the Labyrinth,” Eagly and Carli (2007) discuss what hinders women’s leadership potential and argue that the glass ceiling is no longer a proper analogy.

Women have broken through and are in positions of power; the Forum on Public Policy 4 barrier is not impenetrable. Nor is it transparent. Instead, they propose the idea of a labyrinth: many possible routes and dead ends exist.

Wrong turns and backtracking are likely and familiar, yet there is a successful (though not visible) path to a worthwhile goal—leadership.

How to Overcome the Gender Gap?

Over the years, much research has focused on the causes of this gender gap and possible remedies. As legislation and awareness helped reduce these issues, other problems arose or were drawn into visibility.

Why Women’s Leadership is Significant?

Women are naturally designed to be innovative and diversely experienced; hence, they are more decisive and can carry out multiple tasks quickly. When women are leaders, they bring forth talents, novel ideas and views, producing better solutions.

Recent research documented by Business Insider showed that women are perceived as better and more capable leaders than their male counterparts. Women as executives bring and discover talents, new perspectives, and exemplary unique ideas.

Moreover, women as leaders are considerably more empathetic and tend to create an environment-friendly and growth-oriented atmosphere, providing the nourishing judgment to lead their subordinates. They are well-versed with good collaborative and communication skills. Their ability to pay heed to details comprehending and controlling the contingency or emergency make them efficient leaders, along with their strong-willed aptitude. Their tactical and cognizant capacity in comparison to men makes them terrific mentors.

Creola Katherine Johnson was one of the reputable mathematicians from America

Women Leaders in Science and Technology 

The world has witnessed female luminaries’ roles in biological sciences, medical sciences, chemistry, aeronautics and space sciences, IT and commerce. Women entrepreneurs from around the world are leading their respective fields with distinctions.

  • Creola Katherine Johnson was one of the reputable mathematicians from America whose calculations done for orbital mechanics as a forefront  NASA employee were crucial to the success of the USA’s first and subsequent crewed space flights.
  • Lydia Villa Komaroff is a cellular and molecular biologist whose significant contributions are considered valuable in her respective fields as a scientist and an administrator of the university. During her postdoctoral research, she also served as a team member who discovered insulin using bacterial cells.
  • Dr. Li is the co-director of Stanford’s Human-Centered AI Institute and was the Vice President at Google. She also worked as a Chief Scientist of AI/ML at Google Cloud. ImageNet, a database of over 15 million images used in deep learning and AI, was invented by Dr. Li. She also co-founded AI4ALL, a non-profit project to diversify the role of AI.

Leads from Pakistan

  • Farzana Aslam is a famous astronomer and physicist. Her areas of expertise are nanotechnology, photon and LASER sciences. Due to her significant contributions in the field of physics, she received a commendation award at the Photon 04 conference organised by the Institute of Physics at Glasgow.
  • Tasneem Zehra Hussain is also one of the prestigious scientists. She is a famous theoretical physicist from Pakistan and has a physics doctorate. She is the first female string theorist invited as a guest speaker in Pakistan’s schools, colleges and universities.
  • Azra Quraishi was an eminent and skilled botanist from Pakistan whose expertise included some unique tissue culturing techniques. She also worked on improving the potato production in Pakistan. Due to her significant contribution to agriculture, she was awarded the Borlaug Award (1997) and the Ordre des Palmes académiques (2002). An increase in the potato yield by 5% in Pakistan is one of her well-known achievements.

Women leaders have always set stellar footprints for the generations to come. Women as leaders play a vital role in running any organisation or industry. With their expertise, they can bring forth hidden talents, nurture young minds with healthy judgments, create a peaceful and growing atmosphere and make their organisation a success story.

Also. Read: The STEM Gap— Contribution of Women in Science and Technology in Pakistan

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