Women make up just 13 percent of the industries of science, math, engineering and math. Most of the reasoning behind this comes from stereotypes placed on girls at a young age, leaving the chemistry sets to the boys and the dolls for themselves. According to Nature, female scientists still receive less payment than their similarly qualified male counterparts, win less grants and are promoted less frequently.
The sexism starts at grade school, with fewer girls likely to get involved in academic clubs and competitions, even here, at Miami Palmetto Senior High where female competitors from both the Science National Honor Society and Social Sciences National Honor Society were unable to attend a competition due to a lack of club funding, though not from a lack of trying.
“There is a problem when you go on field trips, it is very expensive because if you have teams of both males and females you have to take a male chaperone and a female chaperone, and that does become prohibitively expensive,” sponsor to the Science National Honor Society, Pamela Shlachtman said. “I never play the game where I want only girls on the team or boys on the team because I think that’s really wrong, I do know that goes on, and it is really wrong.”
The Science National Honor Society consists equally of both boy competitors and female competitors, however, travel costs combined with room and board add up when both sexes attend any competition. The district offers very little help in terms of money.
“I don’t think the district supports schools trying to do a lot of competitions, the schools don’t have the money, they really screw the schools on money,” Shlachtman said. “The district wants you to compete in all these science, technology, engineering and mathematic activities, but they don’t offer you support.”
The Social Sciences Honor Society faced the same problem, having to disqualify teams from attending based on ranking of previous competitions, therefore barring the lone female competitor. An unfortunate casualty due to a year of record low fundraising.
“I really wish we could have taken her, I think that would’ve been very important,” sponsor of the Social Sciences Honor Society, Julianne Farkas said. “We had to make some very hard decisions as far as funding goes so we took the top two teams.”
Senior Tatiana Wirth, a member of the Social Sciences Honor Society, was first set to go on the trip, and then when funding fell through they decided that in order maximize the amount of people that could attend and minimize costs they would take only 12 members, not including three other male competitors and Wirth.
“I’ve been competing with history bowl since I was a sophomore so to see all the hard work and I finally had the chance to go but then I couldn’t go because of money,” Wirth said. “It was very disheartening.”
If Wirth were attending, the prices would spike. Combined with the cost of her own hotel room, another chaperone with another hotel room and travel costs for both makes for a much pricier trip, and fewer competitors able to go.
“It kind of bleeds into the fact that women still make less than men do and women are expected to do different things that men do,” Wirth said. “[Women] participating in these event is, I don’t want to say frowned upon but we’re looked at like, ‘oh wow she’s such a nerd, why is she competing in an academic thing.’Competing is not encouraged.”