We’ve all seen Rosie the Riveter: blue coveralls, red polka-dotted bandanna, biceps blazing. Rosie is a cultural icon, used to mobilize women into manufacturing during World War II. But sixty years after Rosie helped recruit 3 million women into war plants across the US, many women still seem reluctant to pick up the riveter.
Women make up over half of the population. So, why aren’t there more women repairing? Women are underrepresented in many fields—especially technical fields. In 1997, women earned just 33.8% of degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). By 2007, that number had dropped to 27.5%. As a woman in STEM, I’ve thought a lot about what stops women from joining our ranks. Maybe women don’t replace their hard drives for the same reason they don’t often change a tire: lack of confidence.