Relatively Few Women Still in Engineering, Computer Science

Which STEM jobs feature the greatest percentage of women?

Short answer: not the ones involving computers or engineering.

The longer answer, fueled by some new data by Pew Research, is that women constitute roughly 75 percent of healthcare-related jobs, including healthcare practitioners and technicians. That’s significantly ahead of computer jobs (where 25 percent of workers are women) and engineering jobs (only 14 percent women).

Moreover, progress has been slow on the latter fronts. “In engineering, the job cluster in which women have the lowest levels of representation on average, women’s shares have inched up only slightly, from 12 percent in 1990 to 14 percent today,” read Pew’s note accompanying the data. “And, the share of women has actually decreased in one of the highest-paying and fastest-growing STEM clusters—computer occupations.“

In the past 27 years, the percentage of women working in computer-related occupations has dropped from 32 percent to 25 percent, an especially significant dip in the context of the rise of the tech industry.

Last year, a survey by Dice and Bustle highlighted gender-related inequality in tech; some 82 percent of responding women felt there was a wage gap, while another 60 percent said they were treated differently than male colleagues. The survey also suggested a significant impact on pay: Some 13 percent fewer women than men reported receiving a promotion in the past year, and 19 percent fewer received a raise.

At around the same time, Pew released a survey in which 44 percent of women said that gender discrimination was a major issue in the technology industry, versus 29 percent of men. “Critics of Silicon Valley have cited high-profile cases as evidence that the industry has fostered a hostile workplace culture,” read its note accompanying the data. “For their part, tech companies point to their commitment to increasing workforce diversity, even as some employees claim the industry is increasingly hostile to white males.”

Clearly, the tech industry is continuing to work through its issues with regard to gender and diversity. Although many tech companies have made a lot of noise over the past few years about integrating more women into their ranks, the workforce percentages are changing slowly. What will the industry look like 20 years from now?

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