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Women in STEM: An Opportunity and An Imperative

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Gender Shares of Total and STEM Jobs, 2009

Today Commerce's Economic and Statistics Administration released the second in a series of reports on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This report, entitled Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation (PDF), looked at women and STEM. The results offer an opportunity and an imperative for women and America. The results showed that 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.

Other key findings are:

  • 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

For more information on this topic, read Chief Economist Mark Doms's blog post about the report and ESA's first report on STEM: Good Jobs Now and For the Future.

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gender salary gap

I was disappointed to read the comments made to Science News by our new Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank about this report..."In fact, one might think that the smaller [salary] gap might actually draw women into STEM jobs."

While, yes, the gender gap for women with a STEM degree is smaller than women in non-STEM jobs, it is still 14%! If you are a woman who just spent the past 11 years working hard to complete undergrad then grad school in a STEM field, it is discouraging to read about this 14% salary gender gap. I don't understand why Rebecca thinks that women should be more interested in STEM jobs because there is ONLY a 14% salary gap. That equates to a sizable sum of money in my book.

Equity in the pay system

I find it amazing that our Department of Commerce is so interested women receiving pay similar to men in similar STEM occupations. The reason I find it amazing, I know thousands of men & women who would just be happy with being paid according to the laws that are on the books already! As a lower paid General Schedule Federal employee, I would be happy just to receive what the law states that I should be receiving! Despite filing reports, claims, and providing factual information to the Department of Commerce, the Census Bureau, the Office of Special Counsel, the Office of Personnel Management, not one individual within those mentioned agencies have yet to act on fixing the problem, and are causing those cheated employees to continue to lose out on countless thousands of dollars of yearly annual income that the law says they must receive.

So much for fairness & equality!

I've answered the simple math question below, could you have employees at the DOC do the math on how to properly promote employees that are promoted 2 grades at one time and share that information with the HRB's of all agencies affiliated?

5 U.S.C. 5334 (b) The Two-Step Promotion Rule

(The higher grade that exceeds the existing rate of pay is always the very next increment on the Salary Table used to promote, not the easiest line to use that offers the lowest wage of the employee promoted, resulting in a 10% loss of pay for most employees promoted 2 grades at one time who are actually in a One-Grade Interval Series!
5 C.F.R. 531.214 Setting Pay upon Promotion

Both the Law and the Regulation are being violated daily and have been for decades.

% numbers

I see and am concerned about the #'s for women in Stem being much less than for jobs overall, but any theories why that is? Lack of interest? Double standard? Discrimination? Lack of encouragement from family or teachers b/c of sex? Others? Thanks! :)

From the press release

Several possible factors contribute 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. Yet regardless of the causes, the findings of this report offer important evidence to inform policy efforts to encourage and support women in STEM.