Women and STEM Jobs


Many women are choosing not to pursue lines of work involving the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Such career choices are unfortunate, because these careers provide among the fastest-growing and highest-paying jobs in the world.

Here's the problem for employers: the majority of college graduates are women; yet women account for fewer than 20 percent of the bachelors' degrees in engineering, computer science, and physics---three disciplines that are in demand.  

According to a study by the job-matching service, The Ladders, the top ten fastest growing job titles are all in technology. Of course, these fastest-growing jobs require educational credentials and specific skills in the STEM areas. Moreover, companies are actually more likely to hire candidates who have some educational background in STEM---even when the job is not in one of these technical areas.

If a young person is looking for a lucrative career, encourage them to opt into STEM. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM jobs pay almost double the country average. What's more, the male versus female wage gap that is alive and well in many professions, is substantially lower or practically eliminated in jobs that require STEM degrees.

In Brazil the best towns for tech jobs are Florianopolis, Campinas, and Porto Allegro. Located away from the megalopolises of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, these towns offer employers tax and other incentives and employees a higher standard of living. In the US, the best cities for tech jobs are not only Silicon Valley (San Jose and nearby San Francisco, California), but surprisingly Washington, DC and Chicago, Illinois as well.

Another reason employers should take note is that having diverse perspectives drives innovation. Thus by increasing the number of women choosing STEM careers, companies will be supporting their own growth.   

In addition, the STEM fields offer women the best opportunities to affect change. STEM fields can offer exciting and meaningful careers for women, if we can move beyond the negative stereotypes that have kept women away.

Wise employers will collaborate to launch a massive campaign of television and web advertising to young, school-age women, similar to the successful program mounted years ago by Canada's Trade Unions (TradeUp). Plus, employers need to provide mentorship opportunities for young people, beginning in Middle School, to deliver the needed encouragement and support. Still another avenue for influencing young people is sponsoring teams for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology), the organization that gives kids local/national opportunities to build robots and compete. ###

Special thanks to SharpHeels.com and article author, Kelsey Rhea, Chief Strategy Officer for "STEM Jobs", a student publication focused on tying STEM education to careers. 

Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a Strategic Business Futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker.


Joyce Gioia is a Strategic Business Futurist concentrating on workforce and workplace trends. Joyce is President and CEO of The Herman Group, a firm serving a wide range corporate, trade association and governmental clients on an international basis.

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