Today I spoke at the science fiction convention, CONvergence, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The panel was about the role of women in technology.
One of the points that often gets lost when we discuss women (or the lack thereof) in the STEM fields is the reason it is a problem that women are underrepresented.
Sure, we hear about the financial disparity between STEM jobs and other fields, or that it is discriminatory, but in my opinion, the real reason it is a problem that women (and minorities) are excluded is that we are doing a disservice to the STEM fields.
One of the ways we conceptualize the Sciences (and by extension, the STEM fields) is as a method of asking questions about the universe. On an individual level, the questions we ask are influenced by our backgrounds. By excluding large groups of people, we narrow the questions we can formulate and, by definition, the answers we will find.
This isn’t just a question of improving the lives of women, or creating a more just society, it is fundamentally about strengthening our STEM fields by introducing and including different perspectives and background knowledge.