Women in STEM Fields:
STEM is an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
Discussion of STEM-related programs has become a presidential priority because too few college students are pursuing degrees in these fields. The U.S. Department of Labor expects that there will be 1.2 million job openings in STEM related fields by 2018, but there won’t be enough qualified graduates to fill them.
Many scholars and policymakers have noted that the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM fields) have been predominantly male occupations, with historically low participation among women, from their origin in the Age of Enlightenment to the present time. STEM professions, like medicine, require higher education or training—especially in mathematics—in nearly all cases.
Since the feminist revolution of the 1970s, the opportunities available to men and women in higher education have become broadly similar in most advanced economies (with some countries, such as Canada, now having more women than men enrolled in post-secondary education). This has not yet translated to equal representation for women in the STEM professions on the ground.
Scholars are exploring the various reasons for the continued existence of this gender disparity in STEM fields. Those who view this disparity as resulting from discriminatory forces are also seeking ways to redress this disparity within STEM fields (these typically construed as well-compensated, high-status professions with universal career appeal). Some proponents view diversity as an inherent human good, and wish to increase diversity for its own sake, regardless of its historical origin or present cause.