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Utah Women STEM Graduates Fewer Than Expected, Study Says


The group Utah Women & Leadership Project, based out of Utah Valley University, publishes studies on how Utah women and girls are doing in academics, politics and workplaces. Recently they did a follow up on a 2013 study called Utah Women in STEM on how Utah women are doing in STEM fields, namely how many are graduating with certificates in those areas and how many express interests in them. 

Referring to the number of women graduates with STEM degrees and certificates, Cheryl Henewictz with the group spoke about the results.

"Frankly, we're a little disappointed. We were hoping to see the needle move a little more. They went up from 20 to 21 percent... this includes all levels from certificate right up to doctorate levels."

Henewictz said this is likely due to new fields opening up such as computer and information sciences and more opportunities in engineering, which have attracted more men at higher rates than women.

Other issues cited include how women aren’t typically exposed to STEM fields at an early age, and how women feel discouraged by bad grades or a lack of support when trying to become more involved in them. But not all the news was disappointing.

"Health professions and agricultural sciences, those are two areas women have been strong in, and so in some cases they've even gotten stronger, and at higher levels," she said. "If you look at the pipeline, if you look at the national assessment of educational progress, they asses students at a fourth and eighth grade level, the females at those grades have been increasing at the same rates as their male counterparts [but] they're still lagging, but all Utah children have been moving forward in this."