Women are blazing new trails in the STEM workforce
The Utah Women & Leadership Project new research snapshot shows STEM women mentors can empower girls
The Utah Women & Leadership Project released a new research snapshot on June 2 centering around the overall status of Utah women in STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math.
Rebecca Winkel, a senior economic policy advisor for the American Petroleum Institute and lead author of this study, said this research snapshot is an update from the previous research brief the project did revolving around STEM women in the state in 2016.
She said a lot of the research presented in this study revolves around is about the confidence of girls and women before they approach STEM fields in higher education or in the workforce.
“Even as early as elementary school, women or girls start to lose confidence in their abilities in math and science—even though there is no actual difference in their scores," Winkel said. "Girls are just as capable as boys, but they start to lose their confidence in these fields.”
Findings of this study conclude the Utah STEM workforce has grown more than 20% since 2016, yet only 3.4% of employed women work in STEM as opposed to 10.5% of employed men.
More findings conclude show that men with a non-STEM bachelor’s degree are about as likely to work in a STEM occupation as women with a STEM bachelor’s degree. Also, in the U.S., women’s salaries in these fields are almost 30,000 dollars less than the salaries of men.
“By the time they get to college, women are dominated by men in STEM fields, specifically STEM fields which are math-intensive… Things like engineering or computer science, and those are the fields that tend to pay better, and so even in STEM, not all is created equal,” Winkel said.
Winkel stressed the importance of highlighting dominant women and female mentors in the STEM fields. She said by shedding more light upon these influential STEM women, young women who are looking for a future in STEM will grow more confident as they pursue culturally masculine jobs.
“They need to see women being successful in those educational fields and in those career paths," Winkel said. "The more we can highlight women who are currently blazing those trails and pursuing those pathways, the easier it’s going to be for women and girls who are following.”