As part of our commitment to increasing diversity in STEM, we’re examining representation of female students in STEM education and career fields. Looking at retention and advancement rates for women and girls in various specialized fields and degree paths, we’ve seen some areas for improvement as well as some amazing strides toward equity in science, technology engineering and math.
On Access and Representation:
In the United States, women make up more than half the population and nearly 55% of all college students, but there are gender gaps in what studies and careers they pursue - especially in STEM.
Across all racial/ethnic groups, female students earned the majority of certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. The health and medical sciences (with 84%), education (72%), and social sciences (63%) each had a greater share of women completing degrees in the field than the humanities, while engineering (19%) and business and management (47%) had substantially smaller shares. (American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2015)
Why it Matters:
• In all engineering and computer occupations, the median earnings of females are less than those of males. The size of the gap varies by discipline, with female mechanical engineers having the smallest earnings cap (95% of male median earnings) while women in other fields are receiving only 86% to 94% of the median earnings of their male colleagues. (Society of Women Engineers, 2020)
• Female computing aspirants have lower STEM confidence than males who aspire to computing and females who aspire to non-computing STEM careers. (Student Research Foundation, 2020)
• Women account for the majority of healthcare practitioners and technicians but are underrepresented in several other STEM occupational clusters, particularly in computer jobs and engineering. (Pew Social Trends, 2018)
The Bright Side:
• Over the last ten years, interest in majoring in engineering and computer science has increased among female students, from 4.4% pursuing an engineering or CS degree in 2009 to 7.1% in 2019 (Society of Women Engineers, 2020)
• From 2013 to 2018, there has been a 65% Increase in bachelor's degrees awarded to women in engineering and computer science. (Society of Women Engineers, 2020)
We’d love to hear from you about how you engage with issues of representation and professional retention in your classroom and in your workplace. Read our recent blog posts about Native American, Indigenous and Latinx Representation, LGBTQIA+ professional development resources and keep your eye out for more deep dives into diversity in STEM!