One of the biggest social issues in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is underrepresentation of minorities. Within STEM, this includes women. While women have been involved in STEM since the advent of the engineering profession (think Ada Lovelace!), their participation was restricted for a long time. While there are no longer formal constraints, women are still disproportionately uninvolved in STEM professions and education. 1
Why is this? Women comprise slightly more than half of the population of the U.S. (as of the 2010 census) . However, this is not reflected in statistics for education or employment. In fact, women account for less than 30% of students in engineering and computer science. While enrollment has increased at postgraduate (Master’s and doctorate) levels, women still hold less than 25% of full-time academic job. And with the exception of psychology (and the social sciences in general), women hold around 10% of science and technology jobs.2 As of 2014, problems of underrepresentation remain. 3
The U.S. Department of Commerce cites a few possible reasons for this employment and education gap in STEM. Possible factors include “a lack of female role models, gender stereotyping, and less family-friendly flexibility in STEM fields.” Women are also less likely to work in STEM jobs. They often end up in education and advertising instead. 4
However, progress in the world around us are making technology more accessible to everyone! Now is the time to be able to get involved and make a difference, regardless of sex or gender. Next week, I’ll list some different resources for women in STEM or anyone who wants to help. Come back for that blog post!