Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How to Equalize the STEM Workforce

As it stands today, women receive 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees given in the United States, as well as 60 percent of all master’s degrees.  So why, even when backed with an outstanding number of graduates, are women still underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields?  

There is no doubt this question invites debate.  Do women stray from careers in STEM due to unseen social pressures and gender bias?  Or is it because women believe they are not cut out for success in such fields?  Whatever the reason, sought out to find an answer to the ever present question of why women are underrepresented in STEM.

The online content site, focused on all-things women, asked seven prominent women to share their ideas on the current situation and possible solutions for recalibrating the STEM workforce.
Here are a few of their responses:

Lisa Chau
Founder of Alpha Vert, private digital strategy consultancy specializing in content marketing and social media
According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, with the exception of engineering and physics, girls in grades K-12 perform as well as boys in advanced science and mathematics classes. However, a divergence materializes between the genders at the undergraduate level of study:

In 2010, 3% of bachelor's degrees in engineering, 6.1% of bachelor's degrees in physical sciences, 5.2% of bachelor's degrees in mathematics, 4.9% of bachelor's degrees in computer sciences, 9.3% of bachelor's degrees in biological sciences, and 13% of bachelor's degrees in social sciences were awarded to minority women (NSF, 2013).

Thus, it is unsurprising that women are underrepresented in the STEM workforce though they comprise 58.1% of the total workforce.

Part of the trouble can be traced to college, where female students lack role models and do not receive equal support from faculty. Katherine Milkman of The Wharton School led research conducted at 259 top-tier schools across 89 disciplines, and found that professors "ignored requests from women and minorities at a higher rate than requests from white males . . . We see a 25-percentage-point gap in the response rate to Caucasian males versus women and minorities."

Lexi Herrick

HuffPo Women contributing writer; marketer for global technology company
There is an issue with trying to determine why STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is still a four-letter word to women: We're asking the wrong question. We should be asking instead, Why is STEM still a four-letter word to girls? Representing women in technology and science begins with raising girls to become a part of those fields. 

If you're a woman and belong to the majority of women not employed in a STEM occupation, can you still remember the moment you lost a genuine interest or confidence in those subjects? Well, I can. I often claim to have always been dreadful at studying anything scientific, but that really isn't true. In fact, I used to excel in the science--I loved everything about it. Until high school, that is. The critical years of shifting between a teenager and a young adult are a main culprit of young girls falling away from STEM.

To read all seven responses, visit:

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