Author: Pew Research Center
Published: Wednesday 10th January 2018
Summary: Perceived inequities are especially common among women in science, technology, engineering and math jobs who work mostly with men.
Half of women working in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs report having experienced gender discrimination at work, according to a new Pew Research Center survey examining people's experiences in the workplace and perceptions of fair treatment for women - as well as racial and ethnic minorities - in STEM occupations. The share of women in STEM reporting gender discrimination at work is higher among those who work in majority-male workplaces (78%), those who work in computer jobs (74%) and those with postgraduate degrees (62%).
When compared with women working in non-STEM fields, women in STEM are more likely to say they have experienced gender-related discrimination in the workplace (50% vs. 41%). In other respects, however, women in STEM jobs report facing challenges that echo those many working women in non-STEM positions face. For instance, both are equally likely to say they have experienced sexual harassment at work (22%) and both groups are less inclined than their male counterparts to think that women are "usually treated fairly" when it comes to opportunities for promotion and advancement.
The nationally representative survey of 4,914 U.S. adults included 2,344 workers in STEM jobs to speak to the issues facing women and minorities in the STEM workforce. It was conducted from July 11 to Aug. 10, 2017, prior to the many recent allegations of sexual harassment by men in positions of public prominence. An accompanying Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data finds that the number of jobs in STEM has grown substantially - particularly in computer occupations. Although there have been significant gains in women's representation in life and physical sciences since 1990, the share of women working in computer occupations has gone down 7 percentage points. Representation in STEM jobs has consequences for workers' wallets as STEM workers earn significantly more, on average, than non-STEM workers with similar education.
"At a time when the STEM community has been renewing its commitment to diversity, this study reveals that men and women in STEM continue to experience the workplace quite differently," said Cary Funk, director of science research at Pew Research Center and lead author of the report. "Half of women working in STEM say they have encountered some form of gender discrimination at work. Women employed in STEM settings where men outnumber women are among those most likely to say they see workplace inequities."
Women in STEM jobs are more likely than their male colleagues to report experiences with discrimination and to consider sexual harassment a problem at work.
Blacks stand out from other STEM workers for the high share who report having experienced race-related discrimination at work.
Women's representation in the STEM workforce varies widely across job types; it has gone up in life and physical sciences since 1990 but has gone down by 7 percentage points in computer jobs.
Most Americans rate K-12 STEM education as average or worse compared with other developed nations, so do those with an advanced degree in STEM.
This analysis relies on a broad-based definition of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce. STEM jobs include: computer and mathematical jobs, architecture and engineering, life sciences, physical sciences, and healthcare practitioners and technicians. Analysis of STEM workers in the Pew Research Center survey also includes teachers at the K-12 or postsecondary level with a specialty in teaching STEM subjects.
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