Last year, the US Department of Commerce (Economics and Statistics Administration) issued a study on women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations in the United States. They noted that women are “vastly underrepresented in STEM jobs and among STEM degree holders.”
The report is available at: www.esa.doc.gov/Reports/women-stem-gender-gap-innovation
The study indicates that, as of 2009, just 24% of STEM jobs are held by women. Yet in the workplace as a whole 48% of jobs are held by women. Furthermore there was no increase in female representation in STEM jobs between 2000 and 2009. In 2009 there were 1.8 million female STEM workers in the US, of which 1.2 million were college-educated.
The authors considered STEM jobs in 4 major categories, as listed in the table below, and measured the proportion of women among those working in each category.
|STEM job category||
|Computer Science and Math||
|Physical and Life sciences||
|Total all STEM categories||
Women are most prevalent in the physical and life sciences category and least prevalent in engineering. Women also are more likely than men to work in healthcare or education after receiving a STEM degree.
STEM jobs are good jobs. There is higher demand in general for most STEM occupations and shortages in some areas. Women with a STEM degree and a STEM job earn on average 29% more than other women in the labor force.
These jobs are also important to the future development and competitiveness of a US economy, which is based significantly on continuing innovation in technology and on scientific developments. Encouraging more women to enter into STEM occupations is an opportunity to boost the nation’s capability for innovation and competitiveness.
As Jennifer Hunt, a Professor of Labor Economics at Rutgers University states: “So it seems as though we’re misusing talent and we’re overlooking talent that could be used to improve technology and economic growth.”
There are a number of resources and pointers at Curriki.org on STEM careers, including careers in physics, industrial design, and oceanography, to name a few. Just go to the Curriki site and search on “STEM”. One of the girls in your class may be destined to become an engineer working on the iPhone 12 that will come to market in the year 2022!