Best Life: Women, minorities in STEM

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 6:43 AM CDT
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ORLANDO, FL (Ivanhoe Newswire) - March is women’s history month. And while we celebrate how far we’ve come, there’s still a lot of work ahead for us. Women and minority women in the United States are facing significant challenges in the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM.

Despite making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, women only represent 28% of the science and engineering workforce. The representation of minority women is even lower, with Black women making up just three percent and Hispanic women making up just four percent of researchers, doctors, and scientists.

Three doctors all faced similar struggles with one common theme.

“I wasn’t expected to succeed in my career,” said Doctor Annette Khaled, PhD, Head of Cancer Research Division at UCF, College of Medicine.

“I was definitely the only woman in the room a lot of the times,” said Melanie Coathup, PhD, Biomedical Engineer at UCF, College of Medicine.

At the University of Central Florida, Doctor Annette Khaled finally feels that equality is valued and she’s heading up her department, focused on cancer research. S

he has never let her gender, or her race stand in her way. Even though studies show minority women in the STEM fields face significant barriers to success including lack of representation, mentorship, and pay disparities.

They also suffer from more anxiety and self-doubt.

Biomedical engineer Melanie Coathup says she felt while in school, she always had to be better to get the same recognition as her male counterparts.

“I think being a woman, you have to prove yourself a little bit more,” said Coathup.

She heads the bionics cluster working on some of the latest advancements in medicine involving technology and engineering and has seen a positive movement when it comes to minority women in research.

“I think we’ve got more women moving towards this now, and I’m hoping that we’ll see that in the next 10, 20 years, we’ll see a bit of a change,” said Coathup.

However, nationwide the battle continues as women in STEM face pay gaps earning, on average, 80 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.

For Black women and Hispanic women, the pay gap is even wider even though they have the same schooling and training.

Interventional cardiologist Ruby Satpathy spent a decade becoming one of just a few women in the U.S. to specialize in structural heart repair.

“About 10 percent of cardiologists are ladies, it’s one percent by the time you go to structural heart,” said Satpathy.

Each of these women say they wouldn’t change a thing about their journey, but they hope their journey will help change things for others.

“I do what I do because I have a passion for science. I love science and I love discovery. Don’t let those things affect you. Go where your passions lead you,” said Khaled.

Women and minority women in STEM fields are also less likely to be promoted to senior leadership positions, which perpetuates the underrepresentation of these groups in top academic and research positions.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.

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