Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation

Economics and Statistics Administration Issue Brief No. 04-11

11 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2011  

David N. Beede

Office of the Chief Economist, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce

Tiffany A. Julian

Government of the United States of America - Bureau of the Census

David Langdon

affiliation not provided to SSRN

George McKittrick

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Beethika Khan

National Science Foundation

Mark E. Doms

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Date Written: August 1, 2011

Abstract

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

Beede, David N. and Julian, Tiffany A. and Langdon, David and McKittrick, George and Khan, Beethika and Doms, Mark E., Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation (August 1, 2011). Economics and Statistics Administration Issue Brief No. 04-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1964782 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1964782

David N. Beede (Contact Author)

Office of the Chief Economist, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce ( email )

Room 4848 HCHB
Room 4858 HCHB
Washington, DC DC 20230
United States
2024821226 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.esa.doc.gov

Tiffany A. Julian

Government of the United States of America - Bureau of the Census ( email )

4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233
United States

David Langdon

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

George McKittrick

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Beethika Khan

National Science Foundation ( email )

4201 Wilson Blvd.
Suite 965
Arlington, VA 22230
United States
(703) 292 4669 (Phone)

Mark E. Doms

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco ( email )

101 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

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