In World War II, while the men were out fighting, women came into the workforce in increasing numbers out of necessity. In 1940, 43 % were working women and that number jumped to 62% in 1944. Earlier, they were thought to be unsuited for science and technology fields. But they excelled at these positions once women were given an opportunity. They were responsible for manufacturing ships of all sizes, guns and ammunition. Along with that, there were women mechanics, welders, test pilots, and many worked in factories all over the United States. The need was great and so was their response to it. After the war many were fired to make way for the returning veterans. But most became mothers and married, which ended their positions. Some returned to clerical positions only.
But today, in science and engineering fields of work, computer science has declined since 1993. Out of a high of 35% in 1984 and compare that with only 27.5% in 1994 of women receiving bachelor-level degrees in Computer Science. While this is a truly disturbing fact, we need to think for a moment, what has changed in our world to make this happen? The girls and women pursuing technical careers needs to be a growing number. One step towards this process is to access the schools and present computers and science in a fun way. The Center for Women and Information Technology in Baltimore, MD have a Computer Mania Day held for 500 middle school students. They encourage the girls interest in Science and Technology through different technology-focused activities. This is a way to introduce the children to these classes. It will have a positive effect for the future. That way, the focus of school children for science and computers gains a greater foothold.
Another way of increasing the number of women going to get technical degrees is through scholarships and grants. Most corporations have funding in their yearly budgets that cover grants and scholarships that are awarded. In the state of Illinois the governor announced $202,000 in grants going to Chicago students and teachers for the field of biotechnology. As a result of more funding, programs such as The Center for Women and Information Technology (CWIT), located in Baltimore County, Maryland. have a mission to improve these careers in technology by offering schooling to women in particular. On Thursday, May 25th, six seniors received their diplomas in downtown Baltimore. Many also received additional honors. These graduates were offered positions of employment with Baltimore Gas and Electricity, General Electric, and Northrop Grumman. These are also great examples of women who take a leading role in their education.
In the book “Marie Curie” by Susan Quinn, the life of this Nobel Prize winner for the discovery of radium and polonium is thoughtfully written. She was born Marie Sklodowska on November 7,1867 in Poland. She went to school in Paris and almost all of her classmates were men. But she never took notice of it. Frenchwomen also had difficulty entering their own universities than foreign women did. There were stereotyping that existed at that time. In 1887, at the school of medicine, there were 215 women in attendance. Marie enrolled in 1892 with 210 women that were students along with her at the school. She was an very serious about her studies. In July of 1894 Marie ranked second in her examinations. She married Pierre Curie on July 26, 1895. They became a team of scientists while raising a family. Remarkably, she was the first women to teach at the Sorbonne on November 5, 1906 after her husband Pierre’s premature death. Women like her are a testament to what we can become if we show the same will. She is a shining example of the possibilities of each person. Despite all that she endured she was able to bring so much from the laboratory about the atomic process. And even toward the end of her life she suffered from the illness from radium exposure due to the tests she frequently did. And that didn’t deter her efforts at all.
From a war which brought women into the workforce by leaps and bounds in the 1940’s to now, we are hoping to see our women in technology careers grow. Through funding by corporations to Computer Mania Day by C.W.I.T, there has to be an increasing focus and substantial rewards to women following these particular paths to greatness. They have great starting salaries, ranging from $40,000 to $60,000 annually. And with increased education comes greater lifetime benefits. Marie Curie had some of these lifetime benefits. She was always in demand for her knowledge. So are the graduates of the Center for Women and Information Technology, and we are proud of them. The future for these women is very bright indeed.