Women STEM majors foresee a different kind of post-grad stress
“She had to compete with other people, but mostly she had to fight against herself, because she spent years and years surrounded by men, watching her female peers dwindle. By the time she gets there, she’s going to be very good.”
Blake Hauser is very good.
Hauser, a UNC senior majoring in biology and public health, navigated her way through math and science courses in nearly every STEM department, as well as in lab research throughout her four years at UNC.
Now, one of 15 recipients of the competitive Churchill Scholarship, Hauser is considered one of the best and most capable science and engineering students in the world.
But it hasn’t always been easy being a female pursuing STEM fields at UNC, Hauser said.
“If you look at the chemistry department or the physics department — which are classes that we’re required to take for the biology major — it’s definitely more male-dominated, especially in physics,” she said. “In the biology department, it tends to be more females than males, but it’s hard to say whether that’s a product of UNC having more females than males.”
For female STEM majors, post-grad stress is more than just finding a job immediately after graduation. Fewer women reach high-ranking positions in the field, so moving up means more pressure to excel, internally and externally.
Landing the job
According to University Career Services 2015 First Destinations Survey, 24 female respondents graduated with a biology major. Of those 24, only 12 attained jobs in their intended field, and seven were pursuing graduate school. The survey is sent to each graduating senior each year, and responding is optional.
In that same report, it was noted that eight female respondents graduated with a chemistry major in 2015, with four working in their intended field and two pursuing graduate school.
Four female respondents graduated with a math major. Of those four, two were working in a field related to math and two were pursuing graduate school.
Only two female respondents graduated with a computer science major in 2015, one of whom was working in computer science, and the other was pursuing graduate school.
Getting the advanced degree