Physics teacher Katie Page, has been affected by the gender gap first-hand many times during her career by being the only woman in the department. She was the only woman while obtaining her physics degree at Loyola University, and for most of her twenty years teaching physics.
“[The gender gap] became readily apparent very quickly once I started as a physics major that there were no women around, but I just kept going,” Page said. “I would get asked on dates constantly. They were more interested in seeing if I wanted to go out than if I wanted to study Physics.”
However, Page was not phased by the gender gap.
“I’m the kind of person who [the gender gap] didn’t really matter to me because [Physics] is what I wanted to do, so I just did it,” Page said. “But I can see how it could be intimidating. You have to put up with probably a lot more than you would in other careers. Often times I would be somewhere and people would just assume I wasn’t there for the Physics. I’ve been asked to get people coffee, people ask me directions as if I’m a worker if I’m at a conference for Physics. You don’t get the respect, I have felt that through time, but I just barrel through because that’s my personality.”
Page believes that the stigma that STEM is for boys still exists and would like to see it be eliminated in the future.
“I think that if we can keep bringing in more and more women role models in the STEM fields for our students here in this building that helps because then the girls here see that there are women out in the world doing these jobs,” Page said. “The more that the women that are out working in STEM can make themselves available when it’s appropriate, make themselves more visible, and the more that girls in school can see that as an opportunity, I think the faster and faster women will go into STEM, it would be exponential, [and we would be able to breach that gender gap].”