Closing The Gap Between Men and Women in STEM

 
09/10/2018

By Anna Kucirkova,

Gender inequality in the workplace is nothing new. When women entered the workforce during World War II, it was out of necessity. During the feminist movement of the 1960s, women entered the workforce by choice. However, their options were quite limited. Most simply became secretaries, nurses, babysitters, or teachers.

Today, women work in all fields, but, the hard sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics are still dominated by men.

Is there is a reason that such a gap continues to exist in these particular fields? And what can be done to close this gap?

What is STEM?

What is STEM?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Educators across the country have been beating the drum for STEM expansion for years. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as any country’s workforce that is proficient in science, technology, engineering and mathematics produces economic growth, advances scientific innovation and creates good jobs.

For high school students, being labeled as a STEM graduate is seen as a positive boost to college applications, and the public assumes that STEM education leads graduates to fields rich in employment opportunity.

However, the truth is that it takes more than just a STEM degree to get a job.

STEM Jobs and Employment Outlooks

STEM includes a diverse list of occupations, including mathematicians, engineers, biomedical researchers, and more. The degree levels vary from bachelor to Ph.D Some professions lack qualified employees, like nuclear and electrical engineering Ph.D.’s with U.S. citizenship. In other areas, such as biology Ph.D.’s aiming to become professors, there are simply too many candidates.

The U.S. is failing to produce enough skilled STEM workers to meet current employment needs and the demand will simply increase in the future:

  • The U.S. could be short three million high-skills workers by the end of this year
  • In careers related to connected technologies, industry experts project a national shortage of half a million trained workers by 2020
  • The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings, while universities are projected to produce degreed candidates for only 30% of those jobs.
  • By 2020, there will be 1 million more IT jobs than there are computer science students in the U.S.
  • By 2022, 1.3 million Cybersecurity and IT positions will need filling
  • Two-thirds of the IT jobs employers need talent for arise from non-tech industries like healthcare, banking, or manufacturing
  • The Top 10 cities with the greatest demand for IT jobs are New York, Detroit, Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Seattle and Baltimore; but for every 8 openings in these cities, the talent pool yields only 5 workers

Research conducted by LinkedIn identified the STEM skills most in demand. Of the top 10 in 2017 were computer skills, “including expertise in cloud computing, data mining and statistical analysis, and writing smartphone applications.”

In the decade ending in 2024, 73% of STEM jobs will require computer skills, but only 6% will be in the physical and life sciences. Not only does the U.S. need more women in STEM, we need more women with computer skills.

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