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Here’s Why Having More Women in STEM Matters


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Less than 25 percent of the country’s current science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) jobs are filled by women, even though women make up almost half of the workforce. That’s a concerning stat when you consider the impact of the lack of women in fields like medicine, pharmaceuticals and healthcare. It could mean less attention paid to women’s healthcare, less research done on the differences between men and women regarding symptoms and side effects of diseases like heart disease, and fewer perspectives on the most pressing medical issues of our time.

This year, the American Heart Association put a plan into action to shift those statistics and inspire women to pursue a career in the sciences. Their newest initiative—a partnership with the Philadelphia School District called STEM Goes Red—aims to change the odds by giving girls the tools and encouragement they need to enter the medical field early on.

“The more women we have involved in science and medical fields, the more attention we’ll get to diseases, like heart disease, that are women-related,” says Dawn Zier, Nutrisystem CEO and the initiative’s keynote speaker. “More women at the table means more bright minds pursuing complex solutions to healthcare problems.

The program, which kicked off in November, gathered 100 ninth- and 10th-grade students to learn about their STEM options through keynote talks, mentoring sessions from local professionals working in STEM fields and hands-on breakout sessions.

“There are over 8 million STEM jobs that will be available in the next decade, and we need talented candidates to fill that role,” says Zier. “Women are precise, thoughtful, curious and analytical, and they have every right to be in these positions and make their mark on healthcare.”

Zier, who holds two master’s degrees from MIT, knows firsthand the importance that encouragement can have on young women deciding on a career. She credits her high-school math teacher for giving her the drive and support needed to enter and advance in the science and tech industries.

“It’s important for young women to have a role model who inspires them to really think about science and tech as an option,” says Zier.

For more information on ways you can Go Red this year, visit phillymag.com/gored.