Where Are the Women in STEM?
By Marisa Rivera
Ihave been asking the same question all my life: Where are the women? From politics to leadership to higher education to high-paying jobs to opportunities. Specifically, in technology and STEM field.
Women are nearly half of the U.S. workforce but only account for 27 percent of STEM workers (U.S. Census Bureau, 2021). The gender disparity in STEM fields has been widely recognized, but few initiatives are addressing it. This becomes highly concerning since most future jobs require some technology, coding, programming, software development, etc.
According to RSA’s Four Futures of Work report, the jobs of the future are in the “Big Tech Economy,” where technology and automation will lead the growth in new jobs. Women have borne the brunt of jobs lost to automation, austerity, and the global pandemic in the last decade, and missing out on the best-paid new jobs.
According to Women in Tech Statistics, (Zuckerman 2020), women only represent 16 percent of the hiring pool for tech jobs. There is a turnover rate of 41 percent for women in tech industry jobs as opposed to 17 percent for men. A report from indeed.com revealed that women in technology are leaving their jobs because of the lack of career growth, poor management, and slow salary growth. According to the Pew Research center, the gap in STEM workforce representation is huge for Latinas.
What employers need to remember is that having women in the STEM field is not a limitation. By not having women in the field, their voices have not been heard, and in turn, employers are missing out on great innovations, productivity, and leading the way into the highest-growing market – Women! Hiring more women in technology will drive better business results through a culture that embraces diversity and inclusion. Employers need to recruit and offer women opportunities for growth and promotions as part of their retention strategies.
Projects like Latinas in Tech is one of the solutions. Latinas in Tech is an organization that aims at connecting, supporting, and empowering Latinas work in the technology industry. The organization works hand in hand with leading firms to create safe spaces for learning, mentoring, and recruiting. Achieving equity for women and girls in STEM fields will require addressing the barriers to entry, retention, and promotion of women.
Having women in STEM fields matters. Equal opportunity matters. When women are welcomed and working in STEM fields, they narrow the pay gaps, allowing them to have high-paying careers that enable them to enjoy economic security. While the number of women in STEM does continue to increase, it is still at a very slow pace. We have a lot more work that needs to be done in education to get girls on early STEM tracks and in the STEM career fields to recruit, retain, and promote them.
I look forward to the day I no longer have to ask – Where are the Women? Because we will have our rightful place everywhere.
Marisa Rivera is president of Mpowerment Works, a motivational speaker, executive coach and leadership and empowerment consultant. [email protected]