These Women in STEM Experience Higher Inequality


Burgandy Basulto is a Content Writer at NAWRB. She has a bachelor’s degree in both English and Philosophy, and a master’s degree in Philosophy. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves running, kickboxing, watching films, trying new restaurants she finds via Yelp, and experiencing other cultures during her travels.

The Pew Research Center’s recent survey on workplace inequalities in STEM highlights three groups of STEM women who are more likely to see gender inequality where they work: women in STEM settings where men outnumber women; women with computer jobs; and women in STEM who hold postgraduate degrees.

Many women in both STEM and non-STEM fields have experienced some form of gender inequality or discrimination in the workplace. One in 5 women in either group say they have experienced sexual harassment at work.

Compared with women in non-STEM fields, women in STEM are more likely to say they have experienced workplace discrimination—50 percent compared to 41 percent.

Women Outnumbered by Men

Seventy-eight percent of women who work in settings with a male-majority said they have experienced gender discrimination. In contrast, 44 percent of women who work in settings with more equal gender representation, or where there is a female majority, report gender discrimination.

Almost half of women in STEM working in settings where men outnumber them feel their gender is an obstacle to job success, compared to 14 percent of other women in similar fields.

Women with Computer Jobs

There has been a growth in computer occupations—which include computer scientists, system analysts, software developers, and information systems managers and programmers—in recent decades. However, women’s representation has decreased by 7 percent since 1990.

Along with less representation among employees, about three-quarters of women in computer jobs have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace. Women in computer jobs are also less likely than men, 43 percent versus 77 percent, to believe women receive a fair share of promotion opportunities within their company.

Women with Postgraduate Degrees

Women in STEM who have earned postgraduate degrees are more likely than other women in STEM, those with some college education or less, to experience gender discrimination in the workplace—62 percent compared to 41 percent.

These women are more likely to believe that being a woman in their field affects success in their job, and are more skeptical that women are treated fairly in terms of promotion opportunities.

One commonality among these groups of women is a lack of female representation in the workplace. This shows the importance of diversity in the workplace: without a diverse workforce, discrimination is more likely to occur. Gender discrimination not only impedes employee success, but also affects long-term success of corporations and progress in STEM industries.

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