Gender gap persists in science, technology jobs, report says

Reply Thu 4 Aug, 2011 09:59 am
August 3, 2011
Gender gap persists in science, technology jobs, report says
By Tiffany Hsu | McClatchy-Tribune News Service

LOS ANGELES — The deficit of women in science and technology endures, even though they tend to earn far more than their counterparts in other fields, according to the Commerce Department.

The fact that female scientists, engineers, mathematicians and technology honchos have been sorely lacking for the past decade is no surprise. Researchers from the Commerce Department's Economics and Statistics Administration point to pervasive gender stereotyping, the absence of role models and the rarity of positions with flexibility for families as potential causes.

Although 48 percent of the country's workforce is female, just 24 percent of women go into science and technology industries. The gender represents 40 percent of science employees, but makes up just 14 percent of workers in engineering, which has 330,000 women and more than 2 million men.

But those female employees earned about $31 an hour compared with the $19 an hour earned by women in other sectors. Men in science and technology fields draw about $36 an hour.

The percentage of college-educated women in the workforce has increased over the past decade, but they are severely underrepresented among degree-holders in science, math, technology and especially engineering. The few who do earn such degrees tend to enter unrelated industries such as education or health care.

"We haven't done as well as we could to encourage young people to go into (science and technology) jobs - particularly women - which inhibits American innovation," Rebecca Blank, acting secretary of commerce, said in a statement.

Tiffany Hsu writes for the Los Angeles Times.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/08/03/119359/gender-gap-persists-in-science.html#ixzz1U4n0rDK8
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Reply Thu 4 Aug, 2011 10:55 am
Generally Math and Engineering require focused (read single track) minds that are not concerned with social interaction--consequently people who have some autistic tendencies are favored in these focused fields.

Now this is shear supposition but perhaps there is a correlation.

Autism in Boys and Girls While we don't know much about what causes autism, we do know this: Boys are far more likely to have the disorder than girls.

Reply Thu 4 Aug, 2011 11:02 am
I think even with autism out of the equation, the social thing you mention is part of it. There is an expectation is many math and science fields of giving your all to that field. It is very hard to have a balanced life (that is, spending time with family, friends, and recreational pursuits as well as working) and also succeed.

Women are generally less willing to give up that balance.

I do also think there is still significant sexism out there. I just don't think that's the whole story.
Reply Thu 4 Aug, 2011 11:24 am
College wasn't a social occasion to me. Granted I was 23 when I started and there was a world of social difference between 19 & 23, but I also studied six to eight hours a day, every day and there wasn't a great deal of time left for social occasions.

Then there's this observation. Many male engineers I've worked with were gear heads. Everything they had as kids was subject to disassembly just to see how it worked, could be modified, or improved. Consequently, dirty and greasy fingernails were the norm. Dirty fingernails among boys and men are socially accepted. Not so much among girls and women.

BTW I've shown at least three licensed, degreed, female Mechanical Engineers how to change a fat tire and change the oil on their car. I was amazed that they never learned this practical skill that I learned by the time I was old enough to know 'righty tighty, lefty loosey'.


Reply Thu 4 Aug, 2011 12:49 pm
I see that particular thing as well. The vast majority of Mech Engineers are men. Women are much more prevalent in Chem Engineering where a lot of stuff is conceptual and the skills come mostly from a classroom. It's amazing what we fail to teach our daughters. I also see the impact of family balance. While the article states that men make more than women in engineering, my experience is that that is completely false for new hires doing similar jobs. The difference is that many of the technical women self select out of the job market to have families. By the time you reach that critical mid-career point where you are juggling significant job related responsibilities and start to reach for those very high paying jobs, many of the women are gone and the ranks tend to be very male. Add to that a persistent strain of chauvinism, but that is something that many US firms are actively trying to root out.
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