A guide for women in STEMResearch shows that women are underrepresented across most technical and scientific fields, including data science. According to BetterBuys.com, women only make up 26% of data professionals. Diversity is important across all academic and professional fields, and it is particularly important in areas that drive innovation and are developing solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. Research also shows that in order to increase the diversity science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, the pipeline of guidance and inclusion needs to extend from early education all the way through professional development and career support .
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- Issues and challenges women face in STEM Fields
- How companies are recruiting more women to fill positions in these fields
- Resources for those women interested in pursuing a career in STEM
- Data Science specific resources for women considering a career as a data scientist
- How campuses and programs are making an effort to foster a welcoming environment for females to succeed in the STEM fields.
Challenges of women in the STEM fieldsResearch is underway exploring the various reasons for the continued existence of this gender disparity in STEM fields. The disconnect between girls and STEM-related career paths happens before college. In fact, 74% of middle school girls express an interest in STEM topics and careers, but only 0.4% of high school girls end up choosing computer science for a college major.
Biases still existA 2014 study found that both men and women were twice as likely to hire a man for a job that required math. It is understandable that women may feel discouraged from pursuing a STEM career especially when the following issues are evident:
- Lack of mentors and senior-level female leadership
- Lack of acceptance from coworkers and supervisors
- Sexual harassment in the work place
- “Old Boy’s Club” mentality that is hard to break through.
- The lack of support creates a mentality of not belonging leading to feelings of insecurity.
Disparity in payResearchers at Columbia Business School found that women suffer from discrimination in the workplace, and are less likely to be selected for new positions. Their study found both men and women were twice as likely to hire a male applicant rather than a female applicant. A report found that 55 percent of women in technology begin in lower-paying, entry-level positions, compared to 39 percent of men. Many STEM industries have the lowest representation of women and the highest pay. According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), women are twice as likely to quit their job than men in the high technology industry (41% to 17%). Research also shows that women are four times more likely than men to feel like they have fewer opportunities in the workplace. It was also found that 49% of the women who left their job remained in the industry. In fact, 22% of these women went on to create their own company. The NCWIT data shows that the amount of women in computing occupations has steadily declined since 1991, when it peaked at 36%. According to Girls Who Code, although 57% of bachelor’s degrees are earned by women, only 12% of them are in computer science. Of the women who left their Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) position, it is reported by the NCWIT that 51% abandoned their training all together.
Why YOU should pursue a STEM careerMore than ever, STEM careers are booming. Engineering is the highest average salary in the first year in any field. Computer science, math, and science majors followed engineering with an average salary of $61,000 and $55,000 respectively. Other majors on average earn less than $40,000 in their first year in the professional field. There is a strong correlation between gender diversity in STEM fields and company earnings. Especially in technology companies where women hold leadership positions. Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, reported in his article, Let’s Get Real About Supporting Women in Tech, that technology companies led by women have an average of a 35% higher return on capital than those led by men. Further studies show that technology companies with female founders perform 63% better than ones with founding teams completely composed of men. More than ever before, companies are recruiting women for STEM positions. Having diversity in the workplace especially in has lead to better outcomes in the following ways: 1. Increased adaptability – Organizations employing a diverse workforce can supply a greater variety of solutions to problems in service, sourcing, and allocation of resources. Employees from diverse backgrounds bring individual talents and experiences in suggesting ideas that are flexible in adapting to fluctuating markets and customer demands. 2. Broader service range – A diverse collection of skills and experiences (e.g. languages, cultural understanding) allows a company to provide service to customers on a global basis. 3. Variety of viewpoints – A diverse workforce that feels comfortable communicating varying points of view provides a larger pool of ideas and experiences. The organization can draw from that pool to meet business strategy needs and the needs of customers more effectively. 4. More effective execution -Companies that encourage diversity in the workplace inspire all of their employees to perform to their highest ability. Company-wide strategies can then be executed; resulting in higher productivity, profit, and return on investment. Women are now leaving companies to start their own venture and start ups. A great example of this is Leah Busque, founder of Taskrabbit. Leah graduated Sweet Briar College in 2001, with a major in mathematics and computer science. She was was worked for IBM as a software engineer for seven years and left to found Taskrabbit in 2008; which became a successful multi-million dollar company. Women continue to change the landscape of the STEM fields become industry leaders.
Types of degrees in STEMEngineering Computer engineering Information technology Software engineering Mathematical sciences Biological science Data science Chemistry Statistics Physics Environmental sciences
Types of careers in STEMApplication software developers Market research analysts Computer programmers Mechanical engineers Industrial engineering technicians Civil engineers Electrical engineers Family practitioners Architectural and engineering managers Computer user support specialists Cost estimators Scientists Economists Chemists Data scientists Statisticians
What can YOU do to encourage a girl to pursue a STEM career?The more exposure to science and technology, the better. Start engaging girls in elementary and middle school so that they will be prepared for high school science and math, experience success, and be more likely to pursue those subjects in college. There are many schools and programs created to attract girls to STEM early on. Take advantage.
- Conduct research on what opportunities are available.
- Explore what your community/clubs have to offer.
- Encourage attending a summer college outreach program.