Increasing Gender Diversity in STEM

Less than 30% of tech jobs are held by women, and that number is even smaller for leadership positions.

6 takeaways from

  1. Many tech companies are working hard to improve the industry’s gender gap, releasing diversity numbers to the public and launching hiring initiatives geared specifically toward women. But for real change to happen, it needs to start earlier – specifically, in STEM education.

  2. Current trends suggest that more women are studying STEM now than ever before – in fact, in 2010, women represented 50.3% of all science and engineering bachelor’s degrees. But there’s still a long way to go when it comes to getting – and keeping – women interested in tech.

  3. A culture that is far friendlier to men than it is to women and a glass ceiling that’s worse than in almost any other industry. According to a recent study by Penn, Schoen and Berland, nearly two-thirds of teens have never considered a career in engineering. Another study by the Girl Scouts of America revealed that only 13% of female teens say that a career in STEM would be their first choice. The reason? They’re not as interested by technology as their male counterparts, and they don’t see the benefits of getting involved.

  4. Historical efforts to get women and girls more involved with technology have been focused on making it easier. But going forward, improving gender diversity in technology won’t only be about making STEM more accessible for girls and women. It will need to be about making it more interesting, too.

  5. Experts agree that one of the most important factors to getting girls interested in STEM is doing it at a young age. From the toys and games they play with to the guidance they receive in grade school, early actions and choices have a surprising effect on girls’ educational and career paths later in life. 

  6. In grades K-12, girls take high-level math and science courses at similar rates as their male peers – and they perform well in them. However, those numbers drop off dramatically the undergraduate level – particularly in the fields of math, computer science and engineering. Colleges and universities are going to have to work hard to get and retain more women in STEM classes. One way Harvey Mudd is trying to improve its numbers? Offering more introductory computer science courses and hosting events and conferences for women in tech. And it’s worked – 40% of Harvey Mudd’s computer science majors are women, far more than at any other co-ed school.


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