Guest Post By Meghan Hall, Business Management Blogger (Learn more about Meghan at the end of this post)
For a seemingly multitude of reasons women have failed to gain a foothold in the growing industries of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or more commonly known as STEM jobs. Even though there are more women in higher education than ever before and 60% of bachelor degrees are going to women, only 20% of computer science degrees are going to women. This number hardly improves when the job market is looked at where less than a third of all computer science jobs are held by women. STEM jobs are only going to increase as technologies are improved upon and the industries grow, so how do women break into industries dominated by men?
Start… Just, Start!
This may seem like it is way too obvious of an answer, but women just are not interested in tech jobs. Analysts have blamed the media in part for this and there is some credence to this. Just take a look at prime time television and see where women are portrayed. Strong, independent doctors, lawyers, and detectives seem to make up the majority of the leading women and they are backed up by either too fat or too skinny guys in wire framed glasses doing the techy stuff. Whatever the case, women are snubbing the tech industry from an early age which leads to the gross misrepresentation in professional careers. Just like band camp or summer camp, there is now “hacker camps” that are geared toward teaching kids how to think analytically about tech related problems.
Role Models Needed
Along the same vein as the media not portraying women in STEM positions, women lack role models in the tech areas. Names like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg too name some of the biggest are in headlines daily while women’s names go largely unnoticed. That is not to say that potential role models are lacking. Marissa Mayer is currently Yahoo’s president and CEO after being a key spokesperson for Google, and Sheryl Sandberg is currently the chief operating officer of Facebook and is also on the board of directors. However, there is a major difference between where women succeed in STEM industries and where men do. The movers, shakers, and innovators still continue to be men, while the managers and business professionals are more likely to have women in leading roles. In order for there to be women role models in the STEM industries more women will contribute to the development of STEM technologies rather than just managing them.
It is important to avoid cries of “Sexism!” when talking about the gap in the STEM industries. While the media portrayal might be somewhat sexist, that is not to say the industry is. Women are easily hired when they have the right qualifications or will to work in the industry. It just happens that few women are applying themselves to this growing job market. If girls can start being taught that techy stuff is not just for boys, the lopsided ratio will even out.
Meghan Hall is a blogger who has focused largely on the world of small business since graduating from Michigan State University with a BA in business management. She contributes to the site businessbroker.net, for which she writes about small businesses for sale.