The current percentage of women in STEM careers sits below 30% of the professionals who work within this field. Such a low percentage might indicate several possible scenarios in science, technology, engineering, and math. Either women aren’t interested in fulfilling positions within such fields, or there is something not allowing them to do so.
Achieving gender equality in the workplace, regardless of the professional area, is easier said than done. However, much effort has been put into achieving such equality, especially for women in STEM careers. In order to fully understand the situation, we need to look at the numbers behind it. Also, we need to learn about the problems women face in STEM in order to be able to overcome them. Only then we will be able to talk about how to achieve gender equality for women in STEM careers.
Women in STEM Careers – What Do the Numbers Say?
When we look at the data available, the problem of gender equality becomes obvious even to the skeptical eye. According to Catalyst.org, the number of women working on scientific research and development accounts for less than 30% across the globe. When we break this down into regions, however, such percentage does increase:
“Central Asia (47.2%), Latin American and the Caribbean (44.7%), Central and Eastern Europe (39.6%), and the Arab States (39.9%) are regions in which women represent over a third of the R&D workforce.”
Women in this fields have more chances of closing the gender-pay gap that still prevails in any industry today. Also, women in STEM careers earn 33% more than those in other occupations. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of challenges that relate to gender specifically which we need to tackle as soon as we possibly can.
Challenges Faced by Women in STEM Careers
One of the reasons why women account to less than a third of STEM occupations is because of the many challenges they face. The main problem they face is with finding female mentors and leaders within STEM fields. Another common challenge is dealing with a lack of acceptance from coworkers and managers because of gender stereotypes. Sexual harassment, discrimination during the hiring process, and unmatched compensation are other challenges women face in STEM occupations.
The corporate culture of science and technology jobs needs to change and adopt gender equality as a norm. Even when some STEM fields are not male-dominated, there is still a significant gap that managers and companies need to get rid of.
How to Achieve Equality in STEM Careers?
Luckily, there are many different and simple ways that companies and managers in STEM fields can achieve gender equality. One essential way to do so is keeping girls’ interest in STEM and motivate them to pursue their passion. Presenting them with empowering and inspiring role models can have a lasting and significantly positive impact on them.
Also, we need to make sure we are creating academic and professional environments that support women in STEM careers –and any others, really. Understanding the challenges women face and sending an inclusive message throughout our communication channels is key. Teaching educators and managers how to deal with stereotype threats will help women in STEM careers and programs that these fields are actively working on making a difference.