Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation
Economics and Statistics Administration Issue Brief No. 04-11
11 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2011
Date Written: August 1, 2011
Our science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce is crucial to America’s innovative capacity and global competitiveness. Yet women are vastly underrepresented in STEM jobs and among STEM degree holders despite making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and half of the college-educated workforce. That leaves an untapped opportunity to expand STEM employment in the United States, even as there is wide agreement that the nation must do more to improve its competitiveness.
Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. This has been the case throughout the past decade, even as college-educated women have increased their share of the overall workforce.
Women with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs – considerably higher than the STEM premium for men. As a result, the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs.
Women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering.
Women with a STEM degree are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation; they are more likely to work in education or healthcare.
There are many possible factors contributing to the discrepancy of women and men in STEM jobs, including: a lack of female role models, gender stereotyping, and less family-friendly flexibility in the STEM fields. Regardless of the causes, the findings of this report provide evidence of a need to encourage and support women in STEM.
Keywords: STEM, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, equality, wages, education, employment, gender
JEL Classification: J16, J24, J31, J44, J61, J62
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation