Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation - New Report Suggests Women in Science Still Make Less Money than Men

A new report concludes that women in science still make less money than their male counterparts, though that "gender wage gap" was smaller than that gap "compared to others in non-STEM occupations."  The report, "Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation," examined women working in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) jobs.  It was released by the Department of Commerce and is based on an American Community Survey conducted in 2009 by the Census Bureau.

The report concludes that:
  • Women are underrepresented both in STEM jobs and STEM undergraduate degrees, and have been consistently over the last decade.
  • The relatively few women who receive STEM degrees are concentrated in physical and life sciences,
    in contrast to men, who are concentrated primarily in engineering.
  • Women who do receive STEM degrees are less likely to work in STEM jobs than their male counterparts, though they experience a smaller gender wage gap compared to others in non-STEM occupations.
The report suggests that the under-representation of women in the sciences may be a combination of a variety of factors. One factor is that these fields "may be less accommodating to people cycling in and out of the workforce to raise a family.  Other factors may be the lack of female role models, the different choices men and women typically make in response to incentives in STEM education and employment, and "perhaps
strong gender stereotypes discourage women from pursuing STEM education and STEM jobs."  The report cautions that it "does not - and cannot – explain why gender differences in STEM exist, it does aim to provide data and insight that will enable more informed policymaking."

The findings provide definitive evidence of a need to encourage and support women in STEM with a goal of gender parity. Given the high-quality, well-paying jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, there is great opportunity for growth in STEM in support of American competitiveness, innovation and jobs of the future.

The full report can be downloaded as a PDF and read here.

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