Why do Women Hold Just 24% of STEM Jobs in the U.S.A.?

Women earn just 3 out of 10 undergraduate STEM degrees, and they hold fewer than 1 in 4 jobs in STEM professions according to statistics. Read why this gender inequality exists in STEM-related careers.
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AUSTIN, Texas - May 17, 2018 - PRLog -- Are American women achieving their full potential as educated participants in the job market? By some measures, the answer is increasingly "yes." For example, the number of male and female undergraduate degree holders is now roughly equal, and the number of college-educated women in the job market has just recently surpassed the number of college-educated male workers. However, when it comes to degrees and jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (collectively known as STEM), the numbers for (https://www.esa.doc.gov/reports/women-stem-2017-update) women in STEM tell a different story (https://www.esa.doc.gov/reports/women-stem-2017-update). As of 2015, women in STEM statistics from the Federal government indicate that women earn just 3 out of every 10 undergraduate STEM degrees, and in the job market, women hold fewer than 1 in 4 jobs in STEM professions. We'll take a look at some of the underlying reasons for this inequality and why it's important to encourage more women in STEM.

New Interactive Charts from the U.S. Census Make it Easy to Visualize Women in Stem Statistics

Thanks to some very elegant charts created by the U.S. Census Bureau, it's easier than ever to understand the relationships between undergraduate degrees obtained by men and women and the type of occupations they pursue in their careers. This quick video gives you a clear idea of how these interactive charts work:

Where Do College Graduates Work

Now let's take a closer look at these interactive charts. (You can find them here on the U.S. Census Website (https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/2014/comm/s...).)

Female STEM Major Graduates and their Corresponding Careers

In the static screenshot above, we selected Women graduates with STEM degrees; their top college majors are Social Sciences, followed by Psychology, and then by a group consisting of majors in the fields of Biological, Environmental, and Agricultural Sciences.

(Tip: to see the numerical data in Excel format, visit the live chart (https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/2014/comm/stem.html) on the U.S. Census web page and use the link found below the live chart.)

Now let's change our criteria by selecting Men with STEM Majors.

Male STEM Major Graduates and their Corresponding Careers

Once you set the criteria to men holding a STEM degree, what jumps out at you is the large upside-down yellow arc that connects engineering majors on the left to engineering careers on the right. This arc represents the large pipeline of male engineering graduates who take engineering jobs.

While around half of these male graduates end up working in non-STEM careers (as indicated by the grayed-out lines), men still far outnumber women in obtaining both engineering degrees and engineering jobs. (Indeed, women hold only 14% of engineering positions, according to the Census Bureau (https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2014/cb14-...).)

Why Aren't There More Women Working in STEM Occupations?

When it comes to understanding why the number of women in STEM occupations falls short, particularly in the fields of engineering and computer science, the charts above give us one important clue: the pipeline for STEM undergraduates is skewed toward men.

That means to achieve greater equality in the workplace, it will be necessary to recruit more women to pursue STEM degrees — as well as ensuring these women graduates actually make it all the way to being hired in a STEM career. (As you can see from the charts above, quite a few women with STEM degrees are electing to pursue careers in non-STEM fields, such as healthcare.)

More and more programs are now encouraging and mentoring young girls to learn about the possibility of pursuing successful and rewarding STEM careers — ranging from the Girl Scouts (who recently introduced a STEM Merit Badge) to numerous summer camp programs designed to teach young girls how to code.

Tip: STEMConnector (https://www.stemconnector.com/) is a useful website for finding news about STEM initiatives and resources in your area of the country.

Overcoming Biases against Women in STEM

Efforts that encourage women to pursue careers in STEM fields haven't been able to erase some of the long-standing stereotypes and biases facing women who choose to pursue work in high-tech careers.

For example, a recent study at the University of Colorado at Boulder identified a pattern of bias against women (https://www.colorado.edu/today/2016/04/07/feminine-women-deemed-less-likely-be-scientists-cu-boulder-study-finds) who have longer hair or finer facial features — just by looking at photos, a large number of study participants tended to incorrectly assume that those women in the photographs were primary school teachers rather than scientists.

Other biases that women working in STEM can encounter include what's now commonly known as "Mansplaining" and its related condition, "He-Peating."

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