Pushing Women and People of Color Out of Science Before We Go In

We have all heard the disturbing reports: We need a million new STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) graduates, we’re in a crisis. We, as a society, seem to be suffering some kind of cognitive dissonance though, because with equal or perhaps greater fervor, we are systematically discouraging women and people of color of the population from pursuing graduate and undergraduate studies and careers in STEM fields.

I am a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a materials engineer, an honors student, and a woman. I also have been told hundreds of times that I don’t deserve to be where I am. MIT admissions decisions come out on 3/14 (for Pi) every year. By 8 a.m. on 3/15 everyone in my high school knew I had been accepted. Tons of people came up to congratulate that day and afterwards but seemed strangely insistent on reminding me that “it is a lot easier to get in when you are a girl because they get so many fewer female applicants.”