Achieving Equity for Women in STEM
There are increasingly more career opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—or STEM—thanks to a range of government and private initiatives in recent years. But there’s still a long way to go before women will achieve equity in what are traditionally male-dominated industries.
According to New Scientist, in the United States in 2017, men in STEM earned on average $73,000, while women earned $65,300. A pay gap of 11 percent.
In addition, NBC News reports that more than 90 percent of women in STEM acknowledge that gender discrimination remains a career obstacle. 88 percent believe that gender bias impedes career advancements for women in STEM fields, especially women who are in the postdoctoral stage. And shockingly, 100 percent of women agree that a lack of confidence, as well as self-doubt, stand in the way of their career development.
Clearly, although a growing number of women are choosing STEM fields as their major in college and graduating with the same skills and knowledge as their male counterparts, a lot of work needs to be done before they truly have the same opportunities as men.
How to promote equity
Managers can play an important role in achieving equity for women in the STEM workplace. The following pointers can help:
- Adjust your hiring practices. The Gender Action Portal at Harvard states that a gender preference can be communicated by using words that are traditionally associated with male traits, such as competitive or leader. By steering away from gendered words in job ads and interviews, you can appeal more to women during the hiring process.
- Offer flexible work arrangements. According to The New York Times, women still tend to take on the bulk of childrearing activities. Offering work arrangements that can help women strike a better work-life balance without sacrificing either their family life or their career can make a huge difference in promoting equity.
- Provide mentoring. It’s helpful for everyone to have a good mentor in the workplace. For women, having someone they can go to for advice about career development and decisions can help them see their way through otherwise challenging obstacles.
- Provide sponsoring. Because women measurably don’t earn the same as men or have the same career opportunities as men in STEM, it’s critical for them to have sponsors who will actively advocate in the workplace. This can be through an organization or by appointing someone in upper management to represent women’s interests in the workplace.
Achieving equity requires continuous attention
Achieving equity for women in the STEM workplace isn’t something that will happen overnight. It’s an endeavor that will require continuous attention and work. But when you see more gender diversity in your team, you’ll likely also see an increase in creativity and innovation—and that can have a positive impact on your bottom line.
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