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BRIDGING THE GENDER GAP: WHY DO SO FEW GIRLS STUDY STEM?


4 сентября 2020, 04:09 | 185 просмотров



Since independence in 1991, state policy has aimed to provide legislative support to women. Kazakhstan was the first Central Asian country to establish a national entity to promote gender equality.
Right now, the world witnesses the 4th innovative transformation: fast stream of data, high-tech advancements and innovations are changing all viewpoints of our lives. For example, in the event that back within the day amid expressions and makes lesson young ladies made smocks, and boys worked with wood or metal, presently it is essentially not sufficient.
For the emergence of these interface more modern aptitudes and competencies are required. It is imperative not as it were to know and get it, but too to investigate and concoct. It is vital to advance at the same time in such key scholarly zones as science, math, innovation and building, which can be combined in one word – STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
STEM is an integrated learning approach, within which the academic scientific and technical concepts are studied in real life context. The aim of such an approach is the creation of sustainable links between the school, community, work and the whole world, contributing to the development of STEM-literacy and competitiveness in the global economy [1].
The acronym "STEM" was first proposed by the American bacteriologist R. Colwell in the 1990s, but began to be used actively starting the 2000s.
The current and future demand for STEM professionals in high valued jobs continues to grow as it drives factors such as employment, economic growth, competitiveness and innovation [2].
There is growing concern that the Republic of Kazakhstan is not preparing a sufficient number of students, teachers, and professionals in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Adopted in 2009, the Law on State Guarantees of Equal Rights and Opportunities for Men and Women governs gender policy. Kazakhstan’s Strategy of Gender Equality for 2006-2016 set practical targets to measure progress in attaining gender equality in policy, the economy, education, family affairs, access to healthcare and the prevention of violence against women and children. It approved in 2016 the Concept of Family and Gender Policy up to 2030, which seeks to ensure equal rights for all and prevent gender-based discrimination and gender imbalances.
The subject of gender equality in Kazakhstan became very topical after the President of Kazakhstan signed the Law “About the Equal Rights of Men and Women in Kazakhstan” on December 10, 2009. For generation of young Kazakhstan citizens the subjects of a gender is associated with women’s issues. The international and domestic experts imply such status of society when men and women have approximately equal shares in the social power and equal access to public resources (material, financial, information, cultural, natural, etc.) [3].
Methods of achievement of gender equality differ depending on many social, economic, political and cultural factors, characteristic for this society. Feminists see the reason of a social inequality particularly in the subordinate position of women, in exploiter entity of capitalist or patriarchal systems, i.e. the gender is aspect of class stratification. They believe that only with liquidation of the system, there is a solution of the women’s problem of unequal position.
Female participation in the labour market is 65.4 % compared to 76.7 % for men, and 38.6 % of Kazakhstan’s GDP is generated by women. 25.1 % of working women in Kazakhstan are self-employed, comprising 50 % of all self-employed individuals in cities and 46 % in rural areas. However, more women than men are self-employed or underemployed relative to their education level [4]. The formal labour market in Kazakhstan exhibits occupational segregation, with women representing over 70 % of all employees in traditionally “women’s” spheres, such as education and health care. Other sectors – such as food services, the hospitality industry, financial services, and insurance – also show a high proportion of female workers. The sectors where men are highly represented tend to be the most profitable, with the highest-paying jobs. Men predominate in the industrial sector, which in 2015 accounted for 36.3% of Kazakhstan’s GDP [5].
Kazakhstan has developed a Higher Education Roadmap to 2020 that outlines the role of e higher education and research institutions in developing a knowledge economy and a modern skilled labor force. The transition to a more knowledge- based economy has strong gender-equality implications. Kazakhstan’s labor force is highly gender segregated, a tendency that begins as students enter higher education. The differences are particularly pronounced for technical and vocational education. To meet future labor force demands, vocational and educational schools must attract a gender-balanced pool of students to high-demand fields of study. More choice for students, free of the restrictions of gender stereotyping, allows for a better match of aptitudes and interests to fields of study and leads to better education outcomes [6].
Kazakhstan's average reading and science indicators in 2018 were close to the level observed in 2009, when the country first participated in PISA. On the contrary, in mathematics, average productivity showed significant improvements compared to 2009 levels. The results in mathematics have improved, especially among the most productive students; and the percentage of students who have completed grades 5 or 6 in mathematics has increased by 1 percentage point between 2012 and 2018. At the same time, reading and science rates declined among the highest performing students.
Socioeconomic status has been a strong predictor of math and science performance in all PISA member countries. This explains the 2 % difference in maths in PISA 2018 in Kazakhstan (compared to 14 % on average for the OECD countries) and 3 % of the differences in academic performance (compared to the OECD average of 13 % differences) [7].
In the course of recent decades, scientists from psychology, economics, sociology and other different disciplines have attempted to comprehend why women are under-represented in STEM field. According to Blau and Kahn, one of the main causes of the gender wage gap is male-female sorting into different degrees and corresponding occupations, this is why encouraging women into STEM fields has become an important policy of state. Despite the higher education levels of women compared to men, the majority of the female labour force is predominantly concentrated in three low-paid sectors such: an education, health and services. Men are concentrated in STEM fields such as hydrocarbon, transport and energy industries [8].
Despite the current growing popularity of the STEM degrees, women remain underrepresented in the field, continuing to earn only 16 % of bachelor’s (men 40 %) degrees in Kazakhstan. Understanding women’s low rates of participation in STEM fields is vital given that the demand for individuals with STEM training has grown recently. Attracting and retaining more women to high-paying fields like STEM may also help narrow the gender pay gap in Kazakhstan. It will be expected that by 2022, an additional 2,5 million workers trained with STEM skills will be required in global market, however there are around 40,000 STEM graduates per year [9].
Because women are underrepresented in the workforce in most countries, they are a significant source of untapped talent. According to WorkplaceTrends.com and Saba data, women comprise less than 40 percent of the global workforce in 2018 and the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report notes that women hold fewer line roles across multiple industries [10].
For instance, in Kazakhstan, women make up the only ¼ of the entire STEM workforce. Contrarily, women dominate men when it comes a STEM degree. Further statistics show that women constitute 15% of the engineering force and 25 % of the computer and mathematical sciences [11].
According to the UNESCO groundbreaking report Cracking the code: Girls’ and women’s education in STEM, only 35% of STEM students in higher education globally are women, and differences are observed within STEM disciplines. For example, according to Kazakstan’s data from World Bank Gender Statistics data, Female share of graduates in Kazakhstan indicated in Figure 1, which had been decreased from 35 % in 2015 to 32 % in 2018. indicate that women make up 60.2 % of students in Master’s programmes and 61.7 % of doctoral students (the OECD reported a slightly higher rate of Master’s students at 64 % and a slightly lower rate of doctoral students at 58 %) [12].
There are various reasons for such a meager constitution of women in STEM. The prime reason is the lack of practical experiences. Women have been quoted saying that they love STEM activities but the lack of practical exercises discouraged them from building a career in the field.
A significant part of STEM students consider their profession as a short-term career: in the next 5 years of their profession, 58 % of students in STEM fields and 21 % of parents.
In Kazakhstan, at the moment, there are only few studies aimed at revealing the professional motivation of female students at STEM fields. This research allowed to find out why young women choose the profession of STEM fields and what motivates them to stay in it. The results of the research will serve as a basis for the development of scientifically based decisions to increase the attractiveness of the STEM degree, as well as to strengthen the professionalism and support of the STEM fields.
Understanding the reasons for choosing a profession is critically important. This question acquires even greater importance when it comes to speaking about women in STEM, as teachers play a key role in shaping the future generation [14].
A review of the literature testifies to the fact that motivation affects the type, duration and degree of involvement of women in this or that activity. In this connection, the motivation can determine whether the candidate will go to the profession of STEM, as long as he stays in it, and to what degree he will be focused on his professional activity [15].
Intrinsic, altruistic and external types of motivation are highlighted as the main reasons for choosing STEM degree. Youth can also choose the profession of STEM as a career under the influence of the surrounding people: parents, teachers, peers and so on. Altruistic intrinsic motivation. The analysis of the earlier studies testifies to the fact that altruistic and intrinsic motivations are the main reasons for choosing candidates for the STEM degrees.
The development and formation of altruistic-internal motivation is very important, as it contributes to greater satisfaction of labor. Besides, STEM workers who have this kind of motivation are more likely to stay in the profession [16].
External motivation. Under external motivation is understood the desire to choose the STEM field, based on such external factors as the availability of guaranteed work, more convenient conditions of work [17].
Influence of surroundings. The influence of the people surrounding the choice of profession is also one of the dominant factors influencing the choice of the STEM profession. Under the surrounding people are meant parents, teachers, partners, colleagues and other persons. Daniel and Farrell note that the influence of parents on the choice of children's specialisation is reduced. Many studies show that former teachers play a significant role in the selection of candidates for the profession of teacher [18]. This conceptual framework is the basis of the current research. The methodological part of the study is presented in more detail below.
Methodology. The current survey was conducted through a survey of students of 1-4 courses and undergraduates of STEM degrees of universities. Also to get a wider picture of the data conducted interviews with teachers and parents.
Second, the triangulation of data is carried out using a mixed method of research – a questionnaire online survey and interview. The benefits of such triangulation include increasing self-confidence in the results of research and ensuring a more detailed understanding of the problem [19]. These benefits are due in large part to the diversity and quantity of data that can be used for analysis.
Population and Sample: The study also included the participation of students from 6 universities (SDU, ETU, KazNITU, KazNU, Narxoz, UIB) in Almaty. Selected universities also represent different universities of the country. The online survey involved 97 students of 1-4 courses and 12 undergraduate students.
Research tools (online questionnaires) are developed for the purpose of identifying factors influencing the choice of young women in the STEM field of Kazakhstan, as well as factors influencing their decision to continue their degree.
First of all, there was a review of the literature on the topic under study for the formation of the conceptual framework of the study.
Secondly, for the composition of online questionnaires, there was a review of the tools conducted earlier, the purpose of which was to study the motivation of STEM students to choose their profession and the desire to work in this field. Thus, the tools of this research are based on:
-Questionnaire surveyor OECD TALIS-2018, [20].
- Questionnaires "Factors of new professions" (FIT-Choice. Factors of new professions) [21].
Analysis and processing of data to achieve statistical objectivity and reliability were carried out taking into account the specifics of the segments of the target audience and the parameters of the selected sample of each segment. The input and processing of the conducted surveys were carried out using special software SPSS.
Interviews with parents and teachers were conducted in Almaty. According to Seidman, the interview is a powerful way to get presentations on education issues through understanding the experiences of people working in this field. Interviews also allow you to improve the interpretation of the data obtained earlier [22]. The survey of the directors of the organisations of secondary education was conducted in the technique of a personal deep structured interview. A total of 5 interviews were conducted with teachers of secondary education and parents. The duration of each interview was no more than 40 minutes.
Analysis of data on the results of the interview were conducted by the method of content analysis.
Carrying out in-depth research in a specific context allowed to understand, to what extent the context and climate of this or that University has an impact, the effect is greater understanding of the factors of influence on the motivation of female students to choose STEM profession and to stay in it.
The survey also included the participation of 12 master's program students from among active STEM workers. This category of respondents was included in the analysis for obtaining more complete pictures of opinions about the pros and cons of the STEM profession, in particular, it concerns questions about the conditions of the STEM work and the status of the STEM profession.
The following are the results of a survey of 1-4-year students in two key areas:
-Factors affecting motivation when choosing STEM degree;
-Factors affecting the desire to continue professional activities as STEM worker.
Intrinsic motivation does not come from the expected result, but from the process, which for the subject itself is a reward. Here, for a person, internal satisfaction from activity, interest, positive impressions are more important [26]. In the case of future STEM workers, this is the perception of STEM professionals as a noble and important profession for society, and the internally high value of this profession for an individual student [27].
Kazakhstan has made considerable progress since the turn of the century in bringing education and labour market policies in line with international standards. In education, efforts show the gradual move away from centrally planned educational governing systems to a greater autonomy of institutions, through advisory governing boards.
Particular attention is paid to the development of educational robotics in the country. For example, annual Republican Olympiad on Robotics has been held in Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools since 2014. Since 2015, Karaganda has been facilitating the yearly Universal Celebration of Mechanical autonomy "RoboLand", which is additionally gone to by the agents of other nations.
Women’s access and use of public and communicative spaces is often mediated by not only gender inequalities in our society, but also financial-economical factors, traditional divisions of labor market and social norms which exclude girls from equal participation in technology. These norms in Kazakhstan are socially constructed based on historical inequalities built on relationships of domination and subordination, which translate into both the public and private realms nowadays. For example, priority of use of the household computer or other techlonogies by fathers, husbands and brothers or censorship of content may prevent access to communicative networks and platforms by women at home.
Given this growing communication capacity gap, the possibility that STEM education development could further rather than diminish hierarchies, be they gender relations or geopolitical, whether at a global, regional, national or local level, between populations as a whole and specific population groups (women and men, non-literate and literate populations, etc.) is cause for concern.
This research has been sponsored by Soros Kazakstan and First in Central Asia Gender Economics Research Center at Narxoz University.
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Автор:
Аigerim KUSSAIYNKYZY