While women are earning more undergraduate degrees than men, they are still underrepresented in STEM fields, particularly in computer science and engineering, National Geographic's Marguerite Del Giudice writes.
Cultural forces — like girls being urged to consider other professions, sexual harassment, and the effect that having children can have on careers — can push talented and interested girls and women out of the sciences, with consequences beyond those individual's careers, she adds.
For instance, Del Giudice writes that it is now well accepted that many women with heart disease have been misdiagnosed because research focused on men and that some drug dosages have had to change for women because the testing relied mainly on men. Adding women into studies as well as into the teams that are conducting them can influence how research is done and what is studied.
"Analysts say that more women are needed in research to increase the range of inventions and breakthroughs that come from looking at problems differently than men typically do," she writes.
And, though, in some area of science, there are more and more women working, Del Giudice notes they are not always proportionally represented in leadership roles.