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Half of Women in STEM Have Experienced Workplace Inequity, Report Reveals

A young woman is working on a robotic arm.

A majority of women working in science, technology, engineering or mathematical (STEM) fields say they have experienced workplace discrimination, according to new Pew Research Center findings.

STEM jobs include computer and mathematical jobs, architecture and engineering, life sciences, physical sciences, healthcare practitioners and technicians, and teachers at the K-12 or postsecondary level with a specialty in teaching STEM subjects.

While discrimination is not limited to STEM positions, "those in STEM stand out," the Pew report noted. Half of 1,225 women in STEM jobs said they have experienced one or more of eight forms of discrimination in the workplace because of their gender. By comparison, 19 percent of men in STEM occupations and 41 percent of women in non-STEM jobs reported experiencing this.

Findings are from Pew's analysis of the Census Bureau's American Community Survey and the 1990 and 2000 censuses, as well as a nationally representative survey conducted July 11 to Aug. 10, 2017, with 4,914 adults 18 years of age or older. The respondents included 1,119 men in STEM jobs and 1,225 women in STEM jobs. Among others surveyed, 2,358 people did not have a STEM job and 212 were not employed. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

18-0066 STEM gender equalities 3.jpg

SHRM Online has compiled other recent stories on gender discrimination in STEM fields from the following reputable sources:  

Isolation, Hostility and Other Challenges Force Women from STEM Careers 

More than half of women who work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics quit their jobs because they feel unsupported and marginalized, according to speakers at the 2017 National Diversity Women's Business Leadership Conference held recently at National Harbor, Md. 
(SHRM Online)  

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Staffing in Special Markets: Technology Professionals]  

Is Netflix Cracking the Code for Women In Tech To Succeed?

According to recent research, 32 percent of women in technology quit their jobs after just one year— mostly because of a culture that is hostile and where women are marginalized and feel isolated. But the research also states that when the opposite happens, when women are fully engaged—such as at Netflix—the company benefits and so do the women. Tracy Wright, the company's director of global content operations, talked about its culture that encourages and supports professional growth for all of its employees. 

The Tech Industry's Gender-Discrimination Problem 

The dramatic imbalance in pay and power has created the conditions for abuse. More and more, women are pushing for change. 
(The New Yorker)  

Months After Sexual Harassment Allegations Rock Tech World, Not Much Has Changed

Many women in tech shared their stories of sexual harassment last year, from an investor exposing himself during a meeting to another kissing an entrepreneur without the entrepreneur's consent. But CNN reports that while there were initial changes, including the resignation of some investors and promises of company investigations and cracking down on inappropriate behavior, women said there have been few tangible changes made by people in power. 

Women at Tech Companies Still Struggle to Reach C-Suite 

Executive-level positions are particularly hard to come by at startups founded by men. U.S. tech startups have made little headway in getting women on boards of directors and in executive suites in recent years. This despite growing industry attention on women's underrepresentation in those arenas, according to Silicon Valley Bank's (SVB's) 2017 Women in Technology Leadership report
(SHRM Online)  

Tech's Gender Pay Gap Hits Younger Women Hardest 

The salary database Comparably released a study in 2017 exploring the pay gap between men and women in the tech industry. Among its most interesting findings is that the gap is largest for women early in their careers, with women under 25 earning on average 29 percent less than men their age, while the gap drops to only 5 percent for workers over 50. 

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