Lame stereotypes women in STEM roles have to deal with

We heard the corridor mumble, and here’s what we think.   

By Sakshi Deshmukh
25 October, 2023
Lame stereotypes women in STEM roles have to deal with

My morning rituals, like any other semi-functional human, comprise a rigorous phone scrolling time. So, before injecting caffeine and some protein into my system, a dose of tweets and memes go in first. And if you’ve been long enough on the supposed ‘micro-blogging’ app, you know it’s a black hole. Once you’ve succumbed to it, the app does either of two things: a) It reminds you of reality or b) It makes you question reality. On most days, you’ll end up doing both. 

We’ll help you with an example. “A guy asked me what it was like to be a woman in a workplace, and another guy answered it for me. Nailed it,” a user shared. While this may not come as a surprise, navigating in the workplace, especially in a male-dominated stream like STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), can be challenging for women. And thanks to the almost unshakeable patriarchal system, facets of misogyny, gendered- stereotypes, and sexism have tagged along, too, making it tougher to survive. 

A 2023 Global Gender Gap Report claims that women account for 27 per cent of India’s STEM. Now, there is no denying that the gender ratio gap in the field is staggering, but there persist many underlying stereotypes that are associated with women in these roles. If we asked you to picture a woman in a STEM role, you’d probably think of Alex Dunphy from Modern Family or someone with a type A personality, wearing huge glasses, dressed lousily, and, well, with no sex life. But this is far from the truth, and it’s time we talked about this largely overlooked stereotype. 


Here are lame AF stereotypes STEM women are tired of. 

‘She must be uptight’ 

This is a classic.  Women in a male-dominated workplace are generally perceived as vicious as the dementors from Harry Potter—‘soul suckers’, a prey of inherent misogyny, who also happens to be a Potterhead, would cackle. While we would leave it to the experts to delve deeper into the common behavioural patterns and their root causes, don’t you think by 2023, we should have done away with a stereotype like this? 

‘Oh, you like fashion?’ 

You tell any living being on earth that you work in a science lab and they automatically come to believe that your interests limit the range of quantum physics to organic chemistry. And don’t get us wrong, we are not blaming you here, for even the fictional world has largely led us to believe so. If we go by the general notion (and stats), a career in STEM is more of a ‘man’s thing’. Naturally, something like fashion which is considered more feminine (we don’t say this, stats do) in nature is not associated with it. The point is, by now, a STEM woman choosing to style herself well and staying on top of fashion trends, shouldn’t come as a surprise. 

The 'geek with black glasses' look

Now you can’t deny this stereotype because even Naina from Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani had to get rid of her glasses before getting Bunny to fall in love with her. But first things first, it is unsettling that we’ve been throwing around the term ‘nerd’ almost like an insult. We say, we replace it with ‘passionate’ (yes, a fellow nerd penned this piece). Anyway, though it may seem ‘unimaginable’, a STEM woman—with or without her thick black frames and books that weigh at least 10 kgs—can love science and be a party animal, too. 

Sex life, what?

Books, labs, and binders are not the only glistening part of a STEM woman’s life, but these ‘geeks’ having a sex life is far beyond what anyone can picture. (we don’t say it, society subconsciously has made us all believe). But turns out, they eventually ‘learned’ to balance and prioritize their well-being. And for all you know, with the forces of science being bestowed upon them, they might be having a better sex life than most of us. 

Lack of creativity 

Holding a microscope or a moving cursor on a computer screen doesn’t mean they can’t pick a brush to paint a canvas in a thousand different colours or hold a microphone to sing. It is time to give these women a public apology for contributing in any way to keep these stereotypes alive and not seeing them for who they are rather than through the tinted glasses of their profession.