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Gender Disparity in STEM Jobs Remains

Despite a decade of recruitment, women are still underrepresented in science.

By | August 5, 2011

WIKIMEDIA COMMON, ELECTRON

A report issued Wednesday (August 3) by the US Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration reveals that women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) remain vastly underrepresented compared to men even though they make up nearly half of the available college-educated workforce.

The key to improving the country’s technologies, job market, and competitiveness with other nations depends on the ability to tap into the pool of STEM degree-holding women, according to the report. However, despite increasing efforts to recruit women into STEM fields, only 25 percent of STEM jobs are held by women—the same percentage as 10 years ago—and only a third of STEM degree-holders are women, suggesting that women are less attracted to these fields than men.

Furthermore, the study reports that women earn 14 percent less than men in STEM jobs. While this may seem like a big difference, the disparity for non-STEM jobs is even greater, with women making 21 percent less than men. “One might think that the smaller [salary] gap might actually draw women into STEM jobs,” Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank told ScienceInsider. “So it adds to the puzzle of what is it that we are doing inside our schools and our families that makes STEM jobs seemingly less attractive to girls."

One possibility is that many more women than men who hold STEM degrees enter the fields of healthcare and education, which were not counted as STEM jobs in this study. Other possible explanations include “a lack of female role models, gender stereotyping, and less family-friendly flexibility in the STEM fields,” the authors write.

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Avatar of: Gbradley

Anonymous

August 5, 2011

The disparity of females in STEM careers is multifactorial, but a critical time is third to sixth grade when stated interests and performance of girls in STEM disciplines begins to wane.  More effort and thought needs to be given to this period.  In biological sciences, the proportion of men and women is about equal up to and including the PhD degree, yet the proportion in STEM careers drops markedly in the transition from training to employment.

Avatar of: Joan

Anonymous

August 5, 2011

Even though I have been away from the school environment for many years, it is my opinion that women are not encouraged to seek those hard core STEM fields. In watching how young girls are socialized today, beginning at home, they are introduced to "Girl Things." When they reach school age the same type of socialization continues to be reinforced. Grow up, become nurces, maybe doctors, and teachers. Not that these professions are not also important; but, I continue to wonder how research would be affected if we spent more time encouraging women to enter these fields. Of course, finally, I feel that there is still some covert bias in the Universities and Research Organizations when it comes to hiring.

Avatar of: Guest

Anonymous

August 5, 2011

Kudos to the Commerce Department for producing the kind of study that used to be carried out by the National Science Foundation, despite NSF continuing to pour millions of dollars into the collection data designed for the same purpose! 

Avatar of: Oron

Anonymous

August 5, 2011

It is time to acknowledge the possibility that there are some innate differences, at least at the level of personality inclinations. Professional career in science research requires not only analytic intellectual abilities, but also some sort of personality make up. By the way, it is also the reason why many intellectually talented men also do no continue into a professional career in science even after successfully completing a science/math field graduate school. Even if for the sake of the argument we assume equal intellectual abilities, the biological personality inclination as it has evolved in humans is just different in women. Men and Women are simply not the same. You can ask the same question about encouraging men to be elderly home caregivers - yes they can do it but they don't - statistically.  

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 5, 2011

The disparity of females in STEM careers is multifactorial, but a critical time is third to sixth grade when stated interests and performance of girls in STEM disciplines begins to wane.  More effort and thought needs to be given to this period.  In biological sciences, the proportion of men and women is about equal up to and including the PhD degree, yet the proportion in STEM careers drops markedly in the transition from training to employment.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 5, 2011

Even though I have been away from the school environment for many years, it is my opinion that women are not encouraged to seek those hard core STEM fields. In watching how young girls are socialized today, beginning at home, they are introduced to "Girl Things." When they reach school age the same type of socialization continues to be reinforced. Grow up, become nurces, maybe doctors, and teachers. Not that these professions are not also important; but, I continue to wonder how research would be affected if we spent more time encouraging women to enter these fields. Of course, finally, I feel that there is still some covert bias in the Universities and Research Organizations when it comes to hiring.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 5, 2011

Kudos to the Commerce Department for producing the kind of study that used to be carried out by the National Science Foundation, despite NSF continuing to pour millions of dollars into the collection data designed for the same purpose! 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 5, 2011

It is time to acknowledge the possibility that there are some innate differences, at least at the level of personality inclinations. Professional career in science research requires not only analytic intellectual abilities, but also some sort of personality make up. By the way, it is also the reason why many intellectually talented men also do no continue into a professional career in science even after successfully completing a science/math field graduate school. Even if for the sake of the argument we assume equal intellectual abilities, the biological personality inclination as it has evolved in humans is just different in women. Men and Women are simply not the same. You can ask the same question about encouraging men to be elderly home caregivers - yes they can do it but they don't - statistically.  

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 5, 2011

The disparity of females in STEM careers is multifactorial, but a critical time is third to sixth grade when stated interests and performance of girls in STEM disciplines begins to wane.  More effort and thought needs to be given to this period.  In biological sciences, the proportion of men and women is about equal up to and including the PhD degree, yet the proportion in STEM careers drops markedly in the transition from training to employment.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 5, 2011

Even though I have been away from the school environment for many years, it is my opinion that women are not encouraged to seek those hard core STEM fields. In watching how young girls are socialized today, beginning at home, they are introduced to "Girl Things." When they reach school age the same type of socialization continues to be reinforced. Grow up, become nurces, maybe doctors, and teachers. Not that these professions are not also important; but, I continue to wonder how research would be affected if we spent more time encouraging women to enter these fields. Of course, finally, I feel that there is still some covert bias in the Universities and Research Organizations when it comes to hiring.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 5, 2011

Kudos to the Commerce Department for producing the kind of study that used to be carried out by the National Science Foundation, despite NSF continuing to pour millions of dollars into the collection data designed for the same purpose! 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 5, 2011

It is time to acknowledge the possibility that there are some innate differences, at least at the level of personality inclinations. Professional career in science research requires not only analytic intellectual abilities, but also some sort of personality make up. By the way, it is also the reason why many intellectually talented men also do no continue into a professional career in science even after successfully completing a science/math field graduate school. Even if for the sake of the argument we assume equal intellectual abilities, the biological personality inclination as it has evolved in humans is just different in women. Men and Women are simply not the same. You can ask the same question about encouraging men to be elderly home caregivers - yes they can do it but they don't - statistically.  

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 6, 2011

We need to think about the "personality make up" as Oron indicates. Can it be  the same make up which leads men predominantly to become politicians?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 6, 2011

We need to think about the "personality make up" as Oron indicates. Can it be  the same make up which leads men predominantly to become politicians?

Avatar of: Ned

Anonymous

August 6, 2011

We need to think about the "personality make up" as Oron indicates. Can it be  the same make up which leads men predominantly to become politicians?

Avatar of: Kep5

Anonymous

August 8, 2011

Didn't you guys actually read the article? Women are getting about half of all STEM degrees, and have for some time.  That includes graduate degrees as well.  We actually like and are good at science.  No innate difference there.  But when it comes to getting jobs... I can tell you that when I (a basic science faculty member at a large midwestern university) had my second child, I was told by my chairman that dedicated scientists don't have children. And what did he tell my husband, who was a faculty member in the same department?  "Congratulations".  Big differences in respect and treatment lead to women voting with their feet.  I went into the "non-STEM" field of medicine, and now am faculty at the same institution, still doing research, get much more respect, more than half my colleagues are women so the whole gender issue is way more benign, and I get about 3 times the pay I got before.  Win-win all around, as far as I'm concerned.  I encourage all my quantitative women friends (physics, engineering, chemical engineering, etc) to go into medicine.  Plenty of physics to do in radiation oncology and radiology, plenty of engineering in surgery, plenty of electrical concepts and devices in neurology and in cardiology. Far fewer assholes and much better pay.  Win-win.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 8, 2011

Didn't you guys actually read the article? Women are getting about half of all STEM degrees, and have for some time.  That includes graduate degrees as well.  We actually like and are good at science.  No innate difference there.  But when it comes to getting jobs... I can tell you that when I (a basic science faculty member at a large midwestern university) had my second child, I was told by my chairman that dedicated scientists don't have children. And what did he tell my husband, who was a faculty member in the same department?  "Congratulations".  Big differences in respect and treatment lead to women voting with their feet.  I went into the "non-STEM" field of medicine, and now am faculty at the same institution, still doing research, get much more respect, more than half my colleagues are women so the whole gender issue is way more benign, and I get about 3 times the pay I got before.  Win-win all around, as far as I'm concerned.  I encourage all my quantitative women friends (physics, engineering, chemical engineering, etc) to go into medicine.  Plenty of physics to do in radiation oncology and radiology, plenty of engineering in surgery, plenty of electrical concepts and devices in neurology and in cardiology. Far fewer assholes and much better pay.  Win-win.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 8, 2011

Didn't you guys actually read the article? Women are getting about half of all STEM degrees, and have for some time.  That includes graduate degrees as well.  We actually like and are good at science.  No innate difference there.  But when it comes to getting jobs... I can tell you that when I (a basic science faculty member at a large midwestern university) had my second child, I was told by my chairman that dedicated scientists don't have children. And what did he tell my husband, who was a faculty member in the same department?  "Congratulations".  Big differences in respect and treatment lead to women voting with their feet.  I went into the "non-STEM" field of medicine, and now am faculty at the same institution, still doing research, get much more respect, more than half my colleagues are women so the whole gender issue is way more benign, and I get about 3 times the pay I got before.  Win-win all around, as far as I'm concerned.  I encourage all my quantitative women friends (physics, engineering, chemical engineering, etc) to go into medicine.  Plenty of physics to do in radiation oncology and radiology, plenty of engineering in surgery, plenty of electrical concepts and devices in neurology and in cardiology. Far fewer assholes and much better pay.  Win-win.

Avatar of: Kep5

Anonymous

August 8, 2011

And by the way... I see lots of elderly patients, and when  wives are ill, husbands are the caregivers.  It's just that women tend to live longer than men, and so end up in the caregiving role more often.  Once again, not a matter of gender.  Men can and will do it, and do it well, when they feel they need to.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 8, 2011

And by the way... I see lots of elderly patients, and when  wives are ill, husbands are the caregivers.  It's just that women tend to live longer than men, and so end up in the caregiving role more often.  Once again, not a matter of gender.  Men can and will do it, and do it well, when they feel they need to.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 8, 2011

And by the way... I see lots of elderly patients, and when  wives are ill, husbands are the caregivers.  It's just that women tend to live longer than men, and so end up in the caregiving role more often.  Once again, not a matter of gender.  Men can and will do it, and do it well, when they feel they need to.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 9, 2011

You got it Kep5! Spot on! Its the kid and family thing. I see equal representation of M and F in graduate school, and even Post-doc, but it falls off dramatically for faculty positions and higher!!! As soon as you start having kids your career tanks! Unless you move into medicine or education.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 9, 2011

You got it Kep5! Spot on! Its the kid and family thing. I see equal representation of M and F in graduate school, and even Post-doc, but it falls off dramatically for faculty positions and higher!!! As soon as you start having kids your career tanks! Unless you move into medicine or education.

Avatar of: Lisa Hall

Anonymous

August 9, 2011

You got it Kep5! Spot on! Its the kid and family thing. I see equal representation of M and F in graduate school, and even Post-doc, but it falls off dramatically for faculty positions and higher!!! As soon as you start having kids your career tanks! Unless you move into medicine or education.

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