Introduction Women today unlike for most of history have an equal representation by number in most fields and institutions However this statement is not true for the field of science technology engineering and mathematics abbreviated STEM which calls for a deeper analysis of the factors that are responsible for this situation According to the United States Department of Commerce a cabinet department of the United States government concerned with promoting economic growth that publishes credible statistics women make up only 24 percent of the STEM workforce Women in STEM 2017 Update 2017 Additionally professor Sylvia Ann Hewlett founder and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation says that women who have an engineering degree a major STEM field have a 40 chance of leaving the field or never entering it at all Hewlett et al 2008 This shows that the problem is more complex than it appears women are not necessarily ignoring the STEM field but many are leaving it or deciding not to work in it even though they went through the necessary education The issue of underrepresentation overall can be traced to three main factors psychology of women family work balance and socioeconomic factors Psychology of Women Women have different pursuits and preferences than men which results in their low number in the STEM field Jane G Stout who has a PhD in psychology and has published multiple essays on the topic of women's psychology suggests that women want to pursue careers associated with communion while most science fields are seen having agency and little communion Stout et al 2016
This opposite association drives women away from the STEM field or from pursuing jobs in this area if they already graduated In order for women to fulfill their need for communion they have to be able to regularly interact with others at the workplace This idea is supported by associate professor Wang Ming Te who been cited over 3500 times and has published 3 essays on this topic who states that women prefer to be around people as opposed to men who want to work more with objects Ming Te 2017 ADD SOME SOURCES HERE Perspective of Women in STEM Lastly another way of analyzing the inequality in the STEM field is by looking at the relative cognitive strengths of women compared to men Ming Te 2017 Specifically it has been proven that individuals with equal or higher verbal skills than mathematical skills are more likely to pursue non STEM subjects and are more likely to achieve notable accomplishments in that area while people that have higher mathematical skills then verbal skills are shown to pursue more STEM subjects and gain recognition Ming Te 2017 It has been shown that men are more likely to have higher mathematical skills then verbal skills leading them to follow STEM careers while women are more likely to have both of these skills on a similar level which pulls them toward non STEM fields Psychology reflected in their preferences and pursuits more specifically their want for communion interactions with people and their relative cognitive strengths causes less of these individuals to pursue Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics careers Family Work Balance Women on average spend more time at home which causes them to have a hard time keeping up with intensive STEM subjects
According to Anna Tan Wilson a retired professor at Binghamton University who has a PhD in a STEM subject many students both men and women thought that work life balance would be harder to achieve in a STEM subject path than in the other professions they we considering Wilson 2015 This situation is made harder for women because of their statistically higher involvement around the household According to United States Department of Labor a governmental source that publishes statistics about domestic involvement every year women spend on average 2 6 hours on household activities while men spend an average of 2 hours ATUS News Release 2016 Additionally in comparison to men women are much more likely to take sacrifices for work Willem Adema a Senior Economist who works at the OECD Social Policy Division suggests that women are more likely than men to adjust their schedule taking part time jobs choosing less demanding work shifting careers modifying work schedules or turning down opportunities for career enhancement to accommodate family commitments Adema 2013 Additionally when women become parents according to Wang Ming Te an associate professor and scholar in this field their lifestyle priorities can change to more family centered ideas Ming Te 2017 This shift can lead to a even harder time for women to stay in the STEM field Women are undoubtedly more committed to family taking more sacrifices on the behalf of their family and spending more time around the household which leads to their lesser representation in the STEM field Sociocultural Factors Women are influenced by broader social and cultural factors which drive them away from entering the STEM field A Conclusion Women in STEM are continued to be underrepresented and there are a large number of hard to control or uncontrollable factors that are responsible for this imbalance In order to combat this problem Dr Lara Perez Felkner who is an associate professor of higher education and sociology suggests that students need to hear encouraging words when they encounter difficulty during their classwork as opposed to saying that not everyone is good at a certain subject Miller 2015 This approach would help motivate more women to pursue a career in the STEM field as it has been found that people who thought it was possible to master difficult math ended up pursuing it in college as opposed to those who thought they could not Miller 2015 With enough women pursuing STEM subject women would start to make up a larger demographic of this field which would eventually lead to this area of studying being more inviting for future generations of women
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