The gender imbalance in STEM fields is extreme. According to a 2010 AAUW report, boys and girls take math and science courses in roughly equal numbers in elementary, middle, and high school, however far fewer women than men pursue these fields in college. According to the National Science Foundation, 29% of all male freshmen planned to major in a STEM field in 2006 compared to 15% of all female freshmen.
Further, while 57% of undergraduate degrees are earned by women, only 12% of computer science degrees are earned by women. By college graduation, men outnumber women in nearly every science and engineering field.
This divide grows worse at the graduate level and is even wider in the workplace. GirlsWhoCode.com states that women make up half the U.S. workforce, yet hold only 25% of the jobs in the technical or computing fields. To quote from the site: “In a room full of 25 engineers, only three will be women.”
Society is leaving a huge talent pool on the table. Women can bring diversity and a different viewpoint to STEM fields, and this resource is extremely underutilized today. As girls are as equipped as boys to enjoy and excel in STEM careers, how can we turn the tide and help undo some of this early conditioning?
Read the full post at Fortune.
Elaine Chen is a Senior Lecturer in the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship.