Fewer women enrolling in STEM classes in community colleges
March 22nd, 2012
01:30 PM ET

Fewer women enrolling in STEM classes in community colleges

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) – While it has been argued that science, technology, engineering and math may open the door to more job opportunities, it seems that fewer women are pursuing those courses of study, at least at the nation’s community colleges.

A study released Tuesday by the Institute for Women's Policy Research says that while women represent a majority of college graduates overall, only 27.5% of Associate’s degrees and occupational certificates in the STEM fields were awarded to women in 2007. Cynthia Costello, the study’s author, found that women are losing ground: This statistic was more than 10% higher in 1997.

Underrepresentation in STEM fields at community colleges may be part of the reason women lag behind men in the STEM workforce. According to the study, women make up almost half of the American workforce but only around a quarter of the STEM labor pool. Data presented in the study shows that women are leaving some STEM fields. From 2000 to 2009, the number of women working in computers and math dropped about 3%.

While the number of women employed in these fields is falling, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the rate of American STEM job growth is outpacing job growth overall. The agency says that while the U.S. economy could add 10% to its workforce between 2008 and 2018, many STEM fields are expected to grow around twice that rate.

Women's salaries in STEM occupations lag behind the median earnings of men, but this gap is generally smaller than the gender wage gap found in other fields. In addition, STEM fields generally provide higher salaries than positions that require a similar level of education.

Costello suggests that the combination of higher salaries and increased growth provides women and minorities an opportunity to increase their presence in the STEM fields through obtaining an Associate’s degree or occupational certification. Shorter-term, cheaper community college STEM programs, Costello argues, can help single mothers and their children rise out of poverty easier than typical four-year degree programs.

Costello's report outlines a few rationales for the drop in women choosing STEM fields. A lack of female role models, instructional methods that are not geared toward women, and care-giving roles at home are cited in the study as reasons for women not entering these fields.

To address these issues, Costello says, "community colleges themselves need to invest more heavily in STEM programs and they need to actively recruit and support women." Costello suggests that community colleges will need support to address these issues. "A whole set of policies and funding streams need to be reinforced out of the federal government in order for STEM programs to expand to the level needed both by industry, by the economy as a whole and by students, especially women students."

The Institute for Women's Policy Research, which developed this study, describes itself as a nonprofit organization that funds research regarding economic and social policy issues that affect women. The study, "Increasing Opportunities For Low-Income Women And Student Parents In Science, Technology, Engineering, And Math At Community Colleges," can be found on the Institute for Women's Policy Research website.

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Filed under: After High School • College • Policy • STEM • Women's issues
soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Chemistry

    I am a woman of color and have had my associates degree in Chemical Technology since 1997. The only jobs I have landed were tempoary positions in the STEM field. I am also a single mother. I went into this field to have a career and do not have one yet in the STEM area. I decided to go back to school. Twenty years ago woman were not encouraged to garduate with a STEM degree, I had many classes where I was the only woman, minority and only one female professors back then. I decided to return to school to receive my BS in Chemistry and there are more females than males in my clases. So the report must be based on geographical information. I am in the Northeast.

    April 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  2. Fools2234

    Ok women arent enrolling in STEM programs. So what? Let me guess we are going to have yet another pro female law or act that is designed to get them into STEM programs. I heard Obama is in talks with feminist groups to exand Title IX (a law that has ruined mens sports programs because of its proportionality requirement) into the STEM programs in college.

    You know something we very rarely hear about, is the fact that men are not attending college at the same rate women are. Men represent only 40% of college attendance and yet we never discuss the issue let alone do something about it and despite this the WEEA (womens educational "equity" act) still recieves funding, we still have "female only" scholarships even tho they represent a clear majority on college campus and we have a 3 inch federal catalog dedicated to girls education...boys who cares.

    Because in the US if its not a womens issue it doesnt matter.

    March 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  3. Phil in Oregon

    STEM jobs are, for the most part, jobs for linear thinkers. Guys are naturally more prone to linear thinking. Not that that belittles girls, it's just that if you want peaches, you don't plant an apple tree.

    March 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Marion Kee

      For those of us who are both female and linear thinkers, hanging out around guys can be a welcome respite from the global-thinker treadmill. Really!

      March 24, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  4. Caiha

    This report is completely meaningless. Community colleges aren't where you go if you're serious about careers in these fields.

    March 24, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Shirley White

      You are wrong. My Associate degree in Applied Sciences earned me a very good job in a medical lab where I may even have tested your blood, or done your neighbor' amniocentesis. I was serious, but for reasons you obviously can't fathom, did not have the luxury of spending years at university. Snobbery is really just ignorance.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • StanCalif

      Agree! our current "education" system is pathetic! "Silicone Valley" certainly does not want females. How can females work 70 to 80 hours a week, every week, when they have obvious "issues" such as menstrual days and possibly child care issues! Men just run away from these "issues"!

      March 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
      • Susan

        What the F is a MENSTURAL day? Clearly you are a Neanderthal from 1875. Women do not take and do not need to take time off to have their menstural period. Moron. Clearly not a person who should be commenting on a Science and Maths issue.

        March 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
      • Susan

        Oh and moron, why don't you ask all the female attorneys and physicians that DO work 100+ hour weeks why women cannot do this. Silicon valley doesn't want women but because it is run by Asian Neanderthals (yes, I have a right to speak on the issue and make such "stereotype" comment because I HAVE BEEN THERE) and Asian men value women about as much as 50s Ad Executives did.

        March 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Dean

      This is such a true statement! IT is a professional field....which requires more if not just the level of undergrad study. LOL @ the writers of this article

      March 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Trustudio

      Exactly, thank you.

      March 25, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  5. unowhoitsme

    When the US outsources jobs, there are less jobs for women (and men). It's a simple math problem.

    March 24, 2012 at 7:10 am |
  6. Michael

    When our politiccal leadership talks need of more STEM personel just who are the ones that have the need? We as a nation have a glut of very well qualified people, listen to just the people here! That US industry can get cheaper wage and penple who will put up with the lifestyle and are more servile to a managenent style that profit driven investors demand. As has always been true as a technical innovation burst upon us those fields at first grow and then mature and need less physical manpower. Today as in past economys by productiom become more effecient we see not more but the employers become less numerous, just take Phara and even the petrochemical firmswhose dependence upon research rely not upon own facilimy but under grads within Univerisity settings. So much of our innovative talent in the hard sciences has gone into military technological needs that talent was not available for other indurtrious endeavors. Look at how many years military kept fiber op

    March 24, 2012 at 4:19 am |
  7. krehator

    Somehow they always blame men for this...

    March 24, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • Susan

      I don't actually see this article blaming men. I see it blaming the education system as not reaching out to women. Women fail women too and the education system is often heavily influenced by women...

      March 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  8. Lena

    In response to greenskies comment: Oh, yes. And then we have the Ricks of the world, the Rush L's who decry the very idea or concept of education. Really??? I don’t think the Rush L’s of the world that make it tough for women in STEM.

    However, comments like this one from Doctor/Professor/Harvard University President Summers are particularly hurtful to women in STEM:

    the “under-representation of female scientists at elite universities may stem in part from “innate" differences between men and women”

    Was Dr. Summers singled out as being anti-women and a jerk by the scientific community for making this outrageous statement: Heck No!!!

    Rather he was rewarded by President Obama and chosen to be a close special advisor for important scientific thinking (which he wasn't very good at).

    Maybe when our Gov and Academic leaders stop cutting down women they'll start being more enthusiastic about pursuing STEM???

    March 23, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Susan


      March 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  9. Michael

    Mysogony, is a multi edged sword but the edge that is dullest is on the excuse side. One feature of many STEM work environments is that it is Project driven, and only those at the top, and their closest assistants, can be retained . Many of the STEMprojects are done not in pritate but upon University campus, and one of the largest drivers and users of STEM able is our military and aerospace industries. Right now there are indeed many calls by firms for but a degree unless tnp of class means grunt work entry. Private competion for projects is fierce and the cost of own R and D only held by largest firms. In the real world choice, such as women with children and those who decide for any reason to change vocations sex is not the issue outside the US and here we have groups whose paychecks depend upon making it an issue. STEM study will be one of new education revamps with funding opportunitys for ALL americans who by merit and want can access.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  10. MadJerry

    I think the gap has more to do with the inherent interests of women and men and less to do with some latent discrimination in instruction or recruiting. I worked for the purchasing/distribution office of a large manufactuerer that was 85% female. I asked my supervisor (female) about this once and she said that when she posted the job adds only 1 in 10 applications would be from a man. it would seem that the work and compensation described were more attractive to women than to men for whatever reason.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  11. Eli

    Stop! Stop! Stop! This article DIDN"T say there were less women in STEM fields overall...read the first sentence again – "it seems that fewer women are pursuing those courses of study, at least at the nation’s community colleges"...in the nation's COMMUNITY COLLEGES!! Yeah – that could easily be because those women that can compete in those fields at a college level don't go to community college–they get scholarships to regular colleges. Bad study, bad conclusion. And yeah, I'm one of those STEM women...with a PhD.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Rachel


      March 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • StanCalif

      Okay, You have your PHD. Do you have a job?

      March 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
      • StanCalif

        No, I do not have a PHD. I work everyday in a "non tech" industry. I live and work near "silicone valley" and I know what is going on! High tech jobs are given to immigrants, educated abroad or even educated here. My landlord is an immigrant from India who works as an appliance repairman for cover. He has invested his family money in real estate here. Wealthy families send their children here to "invest" and proper! Since the "mortgage meltdown", rental properties are very profitable. Personally, I lost everything due to the "dot com bust" and the mortgage meltdown. Foreigners who came here avoided all this mess! They were smart enough to avoid this mess!

        March 24, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  12. grey

    Chalk another one up for the state of the American education system. This and other negative education paterns will continue until we get back to teaching the basics, and holding back students not ready for the next year. Simple fact.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  13. BucketDrop

    Over a very small sampling of STEM women (my wife included, who has a MS in mech. engineering), I have seen a rather large number who do not actually like the tech/nerd side of the STEM field. They are not interested in talking about what CERN has discovered or how the memristor works. However, they find they enjoy working with teams and managing those teams far more than crunching the numbers (even though they may be quite good at number crunching). I have several female STEM friends who are totally into the tech, but there are a far larger number who just aren't. It has lead me to the rather non PC conclusion that maybe the lack of females in STEM professions is for the reasons cited in this article plus the non PC reason that perhaps more (certainly not all) women prefer the social networking and people management business compared to the number crunching and manipulation business. It does not seem to me I am applying a stereotype unfairly here. Anyone have comments?

    March 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • wagnertinatlanta

      Any opinion that does not immediately concede the superiority of women in any field they care to enter - and in any field they do not care to enter - is invidious, discriminatory, bigoted and icky. Watch yourself, you nasty man - we're coming to get you.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
      • wagnertinatlanta

        The posting above - or below, depending on where this blog decides to put it - was intended as a response to bucketdrop. Apparently "reply" doesn't actually mean squat.

        March 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Eudyptes

      @BucketDrop I would disagree that most women working in the STEM fields don't enjoy their jobs or the nerd aspects. As a woman that has worked in biotechnology, just because your wife doesn't seem to like it doesn't mean that applies to everyone. I love my job and the work (I just don't like how far from where I live my job is or that it can be hard to find a job to begin with). The only time I find myself not really wanting to talk about what I do with someone is because most of the time (male of female) if the person doesn't work in the industry themselves they have no idea what I am talking about and it gets laborious to have to explain the very basic concepts to people all the time.

      One thing I have encountered consistently as I have moved around is that a lot of people (male or female) that do not work in STEM fields seem to be intimidated by people who do because they view people that work in those fields as extra smart.

      I also think there is a stigma attached because popular culture always depicts STEM educated individuals as socially inept robotic people that can't understand the emotions or interests of other people.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Laura

      Nah. I'm taking a bunch of math classes – I'm in Advanced Calc right now – and I LOVE the tech stuff. Unfortunately, I don't think I have the aptitude to really work in a tech field, but I know lots of women who are interested in the tech angle, but so many are afraid of math that they shut the door on themselves long before they have the choice to pursue a STEM education. As long as people are content to believe that there is such a thing as a "number person" or a "word person" and that "women are more verbal," we will see this sort of thing. We need to change the way we talk about math around kids – both girls and boys – in order to increase interest in STEM subjects.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Marion Kee

      I went into STEM in the early 80's because I really like the tech/nerd side and I was good at it. Worked in it at a major research university, earned my M.S. along the way, did this for 14 years. Dealt with sexist attitudes by finding common ground as nerds, successful more often than not. But over time I experienced a substantial gender difference in pay and promotion potential. As a female it was much less likely I was going to remind a boss of himself as a young man, and my perception was that this was an important, if largely subliminal, factor in advancement in particular. As time went on more women entered the field and it became less comfortable for me to be there as a nerd, because the women were by and large very bright and good what at what they did but they didn't come at it like the men did. For years I'd had the luxury of nobody at work caring who I dated, how I looked (faded T-shirt and jeans, sneakers and a modest level of grooming had fit in just fine with the all-male environment of yesteryear) or whether I put my feet up on the furniture in the lounge, and people might throw a football around while we discussed some thorny problem. That all changed. And finally I got a female boss. And finally after a dozen years my salary reached parity with my junior male colleagues. It was a mixed bag; not as much fun for me, but a better salary easier to pay the bills of a very modest standard of living and still max out my retirement. I can relate to BucketDrop's comment, but I don't really think it was that the women didn't like the tech/nerd side of what we were doing. I think they just didn't relate to it in the same way, while I and a few other early "pioneer" double-X-chromosome people did relate to our work very much the way the guys tended to, and behaved accordingly.

      March 24, 2012 at 2:15 am |
    • Susan

      What "nerd" aspect is it that women don't like exactly? Do you mean the antisocial, I can only communicate with my fellow human being through a gaming character online, aspect? That is not "nerd," that is Autism Spectrurm Disorder, particularly Aspergers. Do you mean, "I love superheroes and comiccon?". That is not nerd, again , that is antisocial and possibly pathology. There is NOTHING nerdy about Maths and Science. From my perspective as a woman who LEFT the STEM fields (astronomy and astrophysics tyvm) for a different professional environment (law) I can tell you that the reason is about machismo. Being a woman in STEM is like being a girl on a football team, the rest of the team refuses to accept you can preform and the rest of the world agrees.

      March 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  14. BucketDrop

    These comments are fascinating. Lots of people seem to not like their STEM job. I would suggest that you should use your STEM education to think critically about what you do like and then move to it. A STEM education is supposed to do that for you and if you and will benefit you in many areas. If you hate your biology-based STEM job, then start a business selling bio-hazard cleaning services to your old employers for 4x what you are making now. Utilize your critical thinking skills and move to something new, even if it is scary.

    March 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  15. art

    I am a woman that has a masters degree in biotech. I hate the industry. The start ups are horrible. I had to work 8+ hrs everyday. Paid me $15/hr. Did this for 1 year, and I've had it. I have a child at home that regularly sleeps without seeing me. When I got disability issues from the work, they laid me off once I returned to full duty (workers comp). Now I am wondering why I spent so much time just to be in an "intellectual", highly woman-hating field. Looking to change fields. My life is wasted.

    March 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • John

      Wow - you're not being negative at all, are you? You're complaining about working 8 hours a day? Really? And you're tired of trying to be an 'intellectual'? Really?

      Word of advice - stop limiting yourself by setting your goals so low.

      March 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • beelzebubba

      Just want to point out that I have worked in IT for 15 years with military contractors (which you'd think would be the most chauvenistic) and major investment firms. In all three places welcomed women... bent over backwards to give them opportunities... and the women were treated as equals by their male peers. I saw the same welcoming attitude for foreign workers, minorities and handicapped workers too. I belived the sweat-shop working conditions, the artificially low wages and the all-American attitude that introverted smart 'geeks/nerds' are uncool that STEM workers face is our problem

      March 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • natais0203

      I am sorry, art, what you select wrong field for your career... As I could see that is actually is the reason for your dissatisfaction, since if you love the work, your career would certainly grow and you would yearn more then $15/hr. However, it could happens with selection of occupation in any field, so there is no need to blame STEM field!! I am just an intern, with major in Software Engineering, but I am already earning $20.5/hr, have flexible schedule and, most of all, love what I do!!! It is actually not my first career choice: my first degree is Fashion Design and Technology and... within a year working at that field I hated it.. So, we just all different... find your place!

      March 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  16. beelzebubba

    It shouldn't surprise anyone that a country with a culture that encourages high school kids to worship their 'ath-a-lete' peers but ridicule the smart 'nerds/geeks has a shortage of tech students. You'd think they'd admire the same smart kids who could improve the high-tech devices everyone craves. But the worst culprit is he tech industry itself. When CEO's of tech companies ask congrss to open the gates & allow more foreign tech workers, they of course state it's because there is a shortage but their aim is to dramatically slow tech wage increases. They have interfered with supply and demand, and now the wages are too low to attract US students. Simple math. They have screwed potential tech workers out of a future and themselves out of a pool of workers because of their greed and short-sightedness. Simple math. Dumb dumb dumb managers. I've been an IT proferssional (computer science and math major in college) for 15 years. As others have posted, it is like sweat-shop work in loud cubicles (how smart is that for a job that requires intense concentration? The managers are usually like the outgoing kids in high school who (I'm being kind here) don't appreciate what introverted people have to offer. It isn't worth it unless you really love the work. Think about it long and hard before you pick an IT career.

    March 23, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • beelzebubba

      Just wanna add one more rant: In my college Computer Science classes, there were only 2 women. I heard several of the young male students lamenting that there weren't more women, so concluded the common thought of the day (that women were intimidated/driven out of STEM majors by men) was dogmatic political nonsense. I belive it is a cultural problem... our society still, as always, ridicules smart students. Apparently its harder for women to join something 'uncool'. It shouldn't be so. BTW...In the tech industry, my own observations show that tech people resect other competent tech people no matter where they are from or what their gender is. Bright people are always interesting to be around.

      March 23, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • greenskies

      Oh, yes. And then we have the Ricks of the world, the Rush L's who decry the very idea or concept of education.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Jacobs

      It does not make sense for the country, the economy, the consumer, or (in the end) the worker to pay a worker more than what someone else is asking to be paid. Why in the world would I and business or anyone else want to buy a software for 50 dollars (as opposed to 30 dollars) just because an American wrote it (instead of some dude in India)? Those $20 dollars savings will add up eventually, and I can use it to put my kid through college. You live in a country where even if you are in poverty, one could expect to save enough for college by working hard (thanks to federal, state, and university aid). One may have to put off starting a family for a while, but it can be done. Once you have a first degree from college, you have even more resources to keep upgrading your skills to stay ahead of your competition in say India, who a generation ago were probably starving (forget college). So stop complaining and compete because the rest of the world is catching and so the competition is not going away.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Jacobs

      It does not make sense for the country, the economy, the consumer, or (in the end) the worker to pay a worker more than what someone else is asking to be paid. Why in the world would I and business or anyone else want to buy a software for 50 dollars (as opposed to 30 dollars) just because an American wrote it (instead of some dude in India)? Those $20 dollars savings will add up eventually, and I can use it to put my kid through college. You live in a country where even if you are in poverty, one could expect to save enough for college by working hard (thanks to federal, state, and university aid). One may have to put off starting a family for a while, but it can be done. Once you have a first degree from college, you have even more resources to keep upgrading your skills to stay ahead of your competition in say India, who a generation ago were probably starving (forget college). So stop complaining and compete because the rest of the world is catching and so the competition is not going away.

      I am an engineer (electrical). Working on a second degree while working full time at a chem plant. I don't have a life right now but all the hard work will eventually pay off.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  17. Enough

    As a scientist – I abhor all and any form of affirmative action in STEM. The place go to best qualified. Race, gender, sexual orientation and all – have no place in science.

    March 23, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  18. Eudyptes

    I hate the term STEM education and I hate advertisements for it. I find that the real problem with the whole STEM notion is that while yes careers in it may pay higher, depending on where you live it can be a real pain to find a job actually using your education in it. I have a biology degree (and I am a woman) and have worked in the science field since I graduated in 2006. When I moved to Ohio it was almost impossible to find a job and when I did find a job it was at a much lower pay than my previous one and I have to commute 50 miles to get to it. Yet Dayton has all these stupid advertisements that they want to be a national leader in STEM education but have no jobs in the field. Its completely idiotic, the very very few jobs that are available require a lot of industry experience and they want you to already have security clearance because almost all the jobs available are for the air force. Then they can't understand why they can't attract people to the city with any STEM background... quit relying on the air force for all the jobs and try to get some other companies.

    My other problem with STEM education is that in my experience with people I have worked with, a lot of colleges fail to prepare you to work in an actual laboratory or job. Why bother even getting a degree in chemistry if you never even take one lab course. That's just stupid because when you get into the real world and can't pipette you won't last very long. Also associates degrees alone are not very desirable by employers in this field. I have a bachelor's of science and that can even be hard to find jobs that don't want someone with a master's degree or phD.

    March 23, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Eudyptes

      Also people seem to be confused at to what STEM stands for... its Science Technology Engineering and Math. So while there may be a lot of female IT professionals, there are not necessarily a lot of Science, Engineering and Math ones.

      March 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  19. ES

    I work an IT. There are a lot of women here. But they are not American women, for most part. Males are also not Americans, for most part.
    There is nothing wrong with US education when it comes to educating females. I think it is more of a cultural thing. Their parents don't set expectations for girls to go into STEM fields.
    Plus, STEM fields require a lot of hard work to acquire valuable skills. Most Americans chose other fields, where there is less effort and the pay is as good such as finance and accounting and medicine and law.
    If Stem is in such high demand then the companies should pay more and the workers will come.
    And let’s not forget about complete lack of even common sense life/work balance – no maternity leave, taking time off for a sick child is a problem, taking time off to take children to a doctor appointments is a problem, coming at 8.30 instead of 8.00 so that you can drop off kids at school is a problem. In general, American workplace is not women friendly. This is a much bigger issue.

    March 23, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  20. peon

    STEM careers are modern-day sweatshops. You work long hours for lousy managers who don't know squat about planning resources. Compared to that, there are other careers that have a better balance of pay versus abusiveness. As with anything else in business and capitalism, if the price is right, they will come. Supply & demand and all that b s. Business are always finding ways to sc rew workers. Getting more women into STEM is one way to expand the number of workers available who are not yet aware of the abusiveness of STEM-related jobs. For smart women who are really into STEM, go take medicine and PhD's. That way you're less likely to be abused as the current workers (mostly men).

    March 23, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • BucketDrop

      Wow, me thinks you need to job-hop. I have loved my STEM jobs and I know most of my friends do as well. 9/80 work schedules, 4-5 weeks of vacation a year, rewarding and valuable work. Yeah, there are some bad managers, but if it doesn't all equal out every pay period, then you need to get out. You should hop.

      March 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  21. sdboschick

    So, I am 19 and am in community college, not that I couldn't get into a four year, but I am pursuing a triple major so my view is "save as much money as you can". Anyways, my community college as recently recieved a grant for the STEM program, and people are getting into it. The thing is is that science and math are not that interesting to the people I have met. I mean the majority of people I meet (guys and girls) are majoring in the following: engineering, physical therapy, sports medicine, psychology, some sort of arts, poly sci, history, sociology, civil work and english. Math and science, being in a lab or working the cubical jobs are not appealing.People want to get out into the world and DO something, even if it means taking a smaller pay check.

    ~White Christian Girlie out

    March 23, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Saber

      Oh, you do stuff in the STEM fields. It's just so much more behind-the-scenes and not really in the spotlight. Without the STEM fields though, technology wouldn't advance, medical innovations and breakthroughs wouldn't occur, and the world couldn't be made a better place. If people hadn't been in STEM fields, we wouldn't have the modern-day comforts such as computers, mobile communications, and medical technologies such as prosthetic limbs. People may want to get out and 'do stuff', but making the changes that help drive lifestyles forward requires technical understanding(s) that aren't natural to people out of the gates. Sure, a social worker can affect the lives of a lot of people. Don't forget though, that the creation of one man however, can change the world. Semiconductors, mobile phones, computers, fermentation. People don't remember the names of those people who made those possible. However, those innovations have changed society forever. STEM is definitely for those people who want to get out and DO stuff to change the world.

      March 23, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  22. laura's mom

    I have two smart kids, a girl and boy. The girl is the oldest and we have encouraged her to be in math and science. She likes the t-shirts, but despite an aptitude and our best effort, she would rather do something "creative" like graphic arts. Now my son, that poor thing is a future engineer straight up and down. We are trying to increase his tolerance and ability for non-structured things, but it's a hard slog. So that's the gender battle in my house

    March 23, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  23. Dana

    I have MSc degree in IT. My graduating class had 50% females. I don't know what this article is talking about :\

    March 23, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  24. Ashley

    This article points out insightful information not only on STEM education among woman, but among all youth in the USA. The questions we need to ask are not just why is STEM education losing traction among our youth, but how to change it. I work with the National Flight Academy (www.nationalflightacademy.com), who is also committed to changing the STEM education equation by combining the thrill of flight, aviation missions and critical thinking in a week-long summer sessions. We are actively engaging students with STEM education everyday- I hope more organizations do the same!

    March 23, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Dana

      Most of students in IT is from India, let's face it. There were two American citizens in the whole 30 people graduate class when i got my degree.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:56 am |
      • natais0203

        Dana, I am not sure which school you went, but in my class (CS bachelor, Software Engineering major) we do not have even one from India.. Some of our teachers are though..I am not in community college, but I would say article matches what I see: out of 22 students, only five female... Moreover, to anyone who stayed what STEM is too difficult for woman, here is the numbers: we started with 30 students, 8 dropped out, only one of them was female... By the way, I am girl as well and do not have any difficulty to keep my 4.0 GPA for whole course of my study (I am senior now..).

        March 23, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • Susan

      @Ashley, when was the last time you met a commercial pilot who was also female? Never I'd wager because the airline industry doesn't hire them. The military RARELY trains women to be jet pilots. So, while women may build planes they don't get many opportunities to fly them and that is going to be a HUGE disconnect with your organizations...unless you are just looking to encourage boys.

      Frankly, in the area of aviation Punky Brewster was my favorite role model. Most of you probably have no clue what I am talking about but that show covered an entire plot arch on the space program that was to coincide with the Challenger launch. And even did a special event after the Challenger explosion

      March 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  25. jdoe

    Maybe because they don't want to move to China or India for jobs.

    March 23, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  26. wrga34q52a5443

    women are usually too smart to work so hard for a slim chance at a low paying STEM job

    March 23, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  27. Fed Up

    I've been a woman mechanical engineer for over 30 yrs. Men still expect you to act "feminine" at all times. Male engineers can be as tough as marines with the vocabulary to match and be promoted and praised for it. The tougher they act, the more weight their engineering expertise carries. If a woman engineer hints at being tough she is given a bad work review, told she's not a team player, is considered rude and inconsiderate. I'm sick of the double standard and can't wait to retire and get out of this horrible situation. I survived the many years of sexual harrassment, but now their game is how much men can belittle you. This is also why only 10% of women with mechanical engineering degrees are still in practice after 30 yrs. There is nothing fulfilling about working under constant discrimination. Darn right I'm bitter.

    March 23, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  28. Joe Blow

    In the upper reaches of the STEM fields (hard science, physics, math, or engineering (electrical, aero, mech) you need math ability at >3 standard deviations above the norm. Not RainMan caliber talent but approaching it. For whatever reason, men tend to far outnumber women at this level of math ability – just as profoundly / mildly mentally retarded men far outnumber women. More men at the far ends of the IQ / math ability bell curve.

    You force more women into the STEM fields by limiting male participation or by lowering the standards for women, but they aren't going to prosper if they don't have the goods and you'll still have a dearth of them in the upper tier b/c you can't fake innate ability. If you think so, then ponder whether the superior male ability to do pushups and pullups is based on innate ability, or just society's sexist attitudes. The brain is just a ball of physical matter that does stuff; why should it be exempt from the physical phenomena that govern the biceps and pectorals? (And FWIW, I'm not asserting overall male superiority here – just as women have superior flexibility, equal or better ultra-endurance abilities, they seem to have better communications centers than men. No gender is better, we're just different from each other).

    BTW, women outnumber men in college by a ratio of 3:2, and as degree earners by a ratio of nearly 3:1. Does anybody care about leveling out that inequality? I think not.

    March 23, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  29. Jon

    I have an ME and worked for years in the energy industry. After years of that, I decided to get my MBA and go into another field.

    Working long hours; working unknown schedules (as in I do not know what time I will be home); dirty, frequent travelling; yet I was getting paid slightly more than a tax analyst that had a desk and worked 9-5, do not get me started on the performance bonuses!

    So now I have my desk, my 9-5, my home everyday; yes, I get paid less, but the quality of life is worth it and I get paid more than when I was starting in engineering. The work is a lot more boring, but then a rush to these people is getting an Excel sheet ready, not flying to some other state to deal with an emergent cooling issue or something.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  30. Bert BigDongler

    Love these feel good stories and accompanying feel good photo. Why would anyone study STEM these days? Better to be a corrupt Democrat politician, or Obama bundler, or government bureaucrat these days. That is where the REAL money is at! Just ask the good folks over at Solyndra!

    March 23, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  31. Mathew Thomas

    Why would you study STEM to get a low paying job with a lot of stress and work long hours. Wouldn't it be better to get a job in Finance or Accounting?

    March 23, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • JeramieH

      When you're being treated for cancer, you'll be glad somebody decided to get a STEM job.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  32. Nikki

    Try watching children's advertising - what the girls are programmed to see & think about themselves vs. what the boys are. And yes, it begins at a very early age. Peers, family, TV and movies – however subtly – too often belittle girls from being in math/science related classes. Even the teachers may not know they are doing it as well.
    Had a male college math teacher (really didn't realize he was doing this) who would spend 7 – 10 minutes with a male student on a problem & ask if he had any more questions, but when a female asked, she was consistently told to ask him after class. I tried to ask him a question before class – no go. The women were expected to ask him questions while standing at his desk with one class leaving the room and the next one coming in. Called the head of the math department & as luck would have it, a woman was that person. The male teacher did apologize to the classes, but by then, most of the women had already left his class.

    Get that type of 'message' for years and it's no wonder women have been left behind. Or is that pushed behind??

    March 23, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Myrmidon

      Interesting. Kind of like the treatment I get going through a nursing program but I'm less passive aggressive about directly confronting the (female) professor about the issue. Fixed the problem on the spot and never had another.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Cathy

      I think you hit the proverbial nail right on the head for my daughter, although she is still at university...she goes through this all the time with her math and science professors AND she plays Div. 1 sports and so doesnt always have the time to meet after class or during professors free time... I call BS on colleges that dont see this...they know whay happens...Hva eworked in education for 10 years now ad I call it out all the tme only to be squashed by the professors...it is absolute BS!

      March 24, 2012 at 11:43 am |
      • Cathy

        Geepers...sorry about all the typos – issues with touch screen...

        March 24, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  33. i_know_everything

    good, now i'll get my sammich on time

    March 23, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  34. Timaran

    Sean makes a good point. An associate's degree is little more than worthless. I am a female wildlife biologist with a Master's degree in Sciences and Mathematics. These are highly technical fields. To be successful in the sciences requires a lot more training–even my bachelor's degree was only good for getting into graduate school. In my field, I would say that there are about as many women as men.

    March 23, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • Lisa

      But not everyone who gets an associates degree is looking for a "career", at least initially. Jobs in STEM areas don't have to be engineers and scientists with masters and doctorates... there are many support roles such as lab assistants, therapists (such as radiation therapists), and technicians in science and engineering.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • Dave

      A 2 year degree might not be worthwhile in most fields by itself, but many people get a 2 year degree with the intention transferring to a 4 year school. Its much cheaper to go that route, and in the end, you still get a 4 year degree from the school of your choosing (assuming you can get admitted).

      March 23, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • BucketDrop

      Timaran makes a good point. Even a MS or PhD is not good enough to be a good STEM worker. You have to be constantly learning and changing. I know several PhDs who stink it up in the field and I know several people who actually never even got a B.S. degree but are still rather well respected in their circles because they continued to learn at an alarming rate and are very proficient at what they do.

      March 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  35. Engineer Too

    My company has a very difficult time keeping young engineers, male or female, because of the incredibly long hours we work. From what I have seen, we are not alone in this problem. Few of the younger engineers want to work backshifts or weekends. They don't want to work six and seven days a week for months. They don't want to be on call to respond to issues. They also don't want to work 10 to 12 hours per day on a regular basis. Frankly, I don't blame them for this. Companies must start to recognize that there is more to work/life balance than simple lip service. If you want people to go into the STEM areas there has to be more to working in those fields than simply a good pay check.

    March 23, 2012 at 8:10 am |
  36. Pete

    "instructional methods that are not geared toward women"

    How do you change a lesson on derivatives or meiosis to suit students with ovaries vs students with testes or vice versa?

    March 23, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • James Hawk III

      Precisely! After three decades of being told about equality, suddenly we're hearing that women require separate (but equal, one supposes) instructional methodologies or else they can't learn the same subject as men are learning? So it's equal rights,but everything else has to be specially geared? The lack of logical consistency here is astounding.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Dave

      Good question. The two best math teachers I have ever had were female, they loved math and loved teaching it. But there just as few women taking the class than there would have been if there were a male teaching the course. Assuming women understand and/or learn math differently than men (which I doubt), you would expect that a woman would be better suited to teach other women.. But, I didn't find that to be the case. There just don't seem to be as many women who are interested in learning calculus.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • CanadianEngineer

      As a female engineering student, I totally agree with you. What makes it more "feminine", ponies and rainbows?

      March 23, 2012 at 8:55 am |
      • doughnuts

        Glitter. There has to be glitter.

        March 23, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Kristen

      The CONTENT may not gendered, but the social context in which we learn IS most definitely gendered. You are likely blind to that fact if you are a member of the advantaged group that system was designed around. (Just like *I* never walk up to a computer kiosk and think how lucky I am that the mouse is on the right and I am right handed.)

      March 23, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Dave the Science Slave

      I sort of thought the same thing. One of the reasons I see that STEM could be appealing is that it is, mostly, objective. Your laser or flask doesn't know if you are male or female, gay or straight, African American, Hispanic, etc. On the other hand, it does not care. Nothing about one's identity makes science work any differently.

      I work for a living as an industrial scientist. I spent a lot of hard work and time getting all the education required, and I spent a lot more time in student limbo and poverty than would be necessary to just get a job with the kind of financial rewards I get. The point, though, is that one doesn't do this just for the dough. It is a consideration, to to be able to endure the education and time, you have to love it. The question ought to be "How do we identify all the kids, girl, boy, white, black, short, skinny, tall, etc that might really love science or engineering?" Once you expose them to what it has to offer, I think you will have little trouble getting them involved. Which direction they take is more a matter of having the internal drive to put up with the crap than anything gender or ethnicity related.

      March 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • MadJerry

      lol, exactly. lemme give it a tongue-in-cheek shot though: "so how did it make you feel when the HCl and NaOH reacted to form H2o and NaCl?"

      March 23, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Cathy

      Pete it is very simple...BE AVAILABLE for questions when needed and without judgement or attitude! A girl might need to ask the same question in a few different ways, BE THERE for her! Has nothing to domwith changing your curriculum...just your attitude and adjusting your people skills! NOT rocket science!!

      March 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Susan

      Read the comments above Pete. STEM teachers, who are usually male, treat women students as less worthy of their time and give more deference to male students. That is all it takes to drive women, who tend to be much more observant of unspoken interpersonal communication (e.g. Body language) out of the classroom. Once out of the classroom they are out of the field.

      March 24, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  37. matt

    You don't get a true STEM degree from a community college; you get "techinician" certificate in a STEM field. These are precisely the sort of jobs that are increasingly being outsourced (or replaced by automation). However, on the flip side of the coin, you'd see the statistics severely skewed the other way if you looked at the numbers of men versus women who majored in nursing (which usually turns out to be a better paying job than some kind of STEM associates degree). What about education degrees? Should men be outraged that women severely outnumber them in those vocations?

    March 23, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • Dave

      I would be interested in knowing if they include 2 year transfer degrees in this study or not. It simply says "Associate’s degrees and occupational certificates in the STEM fields", which doesn't really tell you if they are counting 2 year transfer degrees for students who majored in the sciences and/or math.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  38. ms.k

    I am currently a degree seeking student in the STEM field. Well, I guess it's more of an industrial field, rather than STEM, but I digress. In July I will graduate, with honors, from a community college with an Associates of Applied Sciences in Welding Technologies. There are currently 4 women/girls in the program of around 200. The problem is not with the curriculum being too difficult for women to compete in, the problem many times is the young men/older men in the classes. They are rude and condescending, and down right hurtful a lot of times. Yes, I know everyone needs to develop a thicker skin, but the types of industrial arts programs offered at the Community College level have the same students seeing the same students every day. There have been plenty of days that I didn't want to go to class because some jerk in the program made me feel inferior. ("Do you need help with that tape measure?") The instructors love having females in the program, because we usually show up the "men", but it sometimes makes the problem worse. Since I'm a little older than right out of high school, (I graduated from HS is 1995) I tend to handle it a little bit better than the younger girls in the program, but it's still tough being the "odd man out" day in and day out. I worked as a production welder for 20 months at a large multinational company, and ran into the same problems there. Some men can be jerks, especially if you do something better than they do it.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:55 am |
    • Chip

      Former welder and former STEM counselor, ran a STEM program in a welding school. You'll have to learn to accept that the faces of your chosen career are not pleasant, and just get on with perfecting your skills, making sure management notices. The alternative is day labor, interspersed with dumpster diving when winter comes. Try applying for aerospace production.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:49 am |
      • Susan

        And that attitud, Chip, is part of the problem. No one is supposed to accept a condescending, unprofessional attitude from their coworkers and colleagues. You're probably one of those guys that misses the good ole days when women folk were not in your job field so you could be as crud, obnoxious, and discriminatory as you liked. Well tough, times change and laws change and abusive employment situations are generally illegal especially when they exist because one employee is a women nd the other are not.

        March 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Todd E.


      I took a welding course and I know it's highly technical. Any man who would be threatened by a woman (or anyone, for that matter) entering their field is hardly a man at all.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  39. Katie

    Does it matter if women aren't pursing STEM education or jobs? The educational plan is most schools is extremely rigid – you can't even pick your own electives. The job field is very structured too – unless you're lucky, your professional career is going to be so narrowly focused you may have trouble if you want to branch out into other areas. (There's a reason why there a so many 'geeks' in engineering – they're good at what they do, but that's all they know or want to do.) You have to have that mindset, not just an aptitude for math. Perhaps women want more social interaction than these types of jobs offer.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:13 am |
  40. krehator

    Somehow this will be blamed on men.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:34 am |
  41. BGL

    Isnt it ok. Women don't have to be, do, and take over everything out there. As an educator for 15 years, I've seen girls excell beyond the boys. Seeking leadership roles and winning thousands of dollars in scholarships.....and the boys let them. I think a bigger question is where all the boys are in general. I see typical male dominated fields like agriculture with twice as many women as men. I don't discourage girls from pursuing school or think they need to stay home, but it's time to put the feminism to rest? It really is ok if there is inequality ..... Not everyone gets a ribbon.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:12 am |
  42. ICUnurse

    I was a computer engineer for 20 years - Master's in Computer Science. I got tired of watching my job get sent out of the country, jobs get outsource, "right sized" and downsized right out from under me and thousands like me. So I raided the 401K and became a nurse. Now, unless they can put my hospital in a plane and ship it to India or China, I have a fairly good likelihood of still having a job next quarter. Women aren't taking these jobs because they are not stable employment. And if you think it's easier being a nurse, I invite you to come watch some poor soul die on a ventilator because the leeches in their house want that check to keep on coming.

    March 23, 2012 at 4:31 am |
  43. JJ

    Let's be real about this, men are still more likely to persevere through the suffering required to get one of these STEM degrees because if they don't, their future employment and social prospects will suffer–that's the thinking anyway. In our and most societies around the world, a man is still judged first and foremost by his job or economic well-being. Until women are judged exactly the same way, there will always be an under-representation of women in the STEM fields.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Lisa

      Women are also judged this way, but women are also continually given messages that they can't think of themselves first, that they need to think about starting a family, that they need to be pretty, that they need to be helpful. Their role models are still, on a day to day basis, women in largely "helping" professions – teachers, nurses, etc. Heck, even when you go into the corporate world, the greatest concentration of women is often in the Human Resources department. When companies stop making t-shirts that say "I'm too cute to do algebra" and "My brother does my homework for me" (a recent phenomenon) and society can stop with this patriarchal, misogynist bullcrap that women who act like men are "bitches" then maybe we'll see some more parity.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • Ponypony87

      "men are more likely to persevere through the suffering required to get a STEM degree" ?!?!?! Really J.J.?
      I am a female and work in a STEM field (biological research) and I am not judged differently then my male co-workers. People judge me by the quality of my work and my results, and how quickly it gets done. People judge by results, not gender.
      Also, if this article is only focusing on community colleges, maybe more women are simply going to 4 year colleges to get the terminal degrees that lead to stronger jobs (ie, MS, PhD, MD, PharmD.)

      March 23, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  44. DC

    Women have the freedom to choose, and they mainly choose other majors. Why is that so hard for feminists to understand?

    March 23, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • BGL

      Exactly! Next research study needs to be on the negative effects of femenism. I see many complaciant boys out there, willing to let the girls take over.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:15 am |
      • BGeary

        Learn to spell complacent. Seems like you are one of those complacent boys. Don't blame women for the fact that some people don't have the motivation of persistence to graduate from college.

        March 23, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  45. kenschne

    My wife and I both have PhDs in a core STEM discipline; we also have 2 young daughters. I work >60hrs/wk in STEM; I make a decent living, but not nearly what it used to be and often under grueling, time-intensive circumstances. Why would I want my children to face this? Why wouldn't I want them to go into business or some other discipline where–if they're going to work this much–at least they'd make 3-4X more doing so?

    March 23, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  46. Bob

    sigh, y is everyone so concerned for women in engineering, while fewer men even graduate from college

    March 23, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  47. Dr Zen

    This is not a women's problem or a discrimination problem. This is a societal problem. American society no longer values STEM (or intelligence for that matter) It values the quick buck and "deal making" regardless of actual long-term value.

    Never mind that the society became great and prosperous based on STEM oriented businessmen such as Ford, Westinghouse, Edison, Gate, Page, Ellison, and Steve Jobs. Now we have glorified non-value "producing" businessmen such as Trump, Romney, and the rest of their ilk at Goldman Sachs, et al.

    But, math is hard! So we as a society deserve what we get.

    March 23, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • CrystalV

      Agreed! Intelligence and science is under attack, along with public and higher education. We are going to loose to China and India, and they don't have the religious hang ups that the U.S. does about stem cell research either.

      March 23, 2012 at 12:42 am |
      • Chef Sun

        We're going to "lose" out to China, not "loose". Elementary English my dear.

        March 23, 2012 at 7:39 am |
      • ziegfeldf

        "Intelligence and science **are** under attack." Ditto.

        March 23, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • Chip

      Math is easier than learning Chinese and trying to break into a closed society of a billion people, because that's one option. Either find a golden rice bowl with Mil.Gov, or learn production math and programming, or learn how to 'game the system'.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  48. female engineer

    The article states that female STEM enrollment has declined in the past 10 years, but does not pose suggestions as to why. Has the academic atmostphere for women in STEM gotten worse in this time? If so, why?

    March 22, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Engineer

      The academic STEM environment has not necessarily worsened but the post academic employment situation is not good for women. Women value social opportunities and work life balance more then most men and thus are put off by science and engineering jobs that often involve long hours in a lab which are increasingly located in remote suburbs. Women, especially young women tend to prefer jobs with greater social opportunities say in service industries like healthcare and in locations that are more urban.

      Note to STEM employers. If you are serious about trying to attract more talented women to the profession, consider moving your Research and Development labs into urban downtowns like Google and Pfizer are doing. The remote office parks typical of tech companies are a big turn off for women.

      March 23, 2012 at 12:31 am |
      • Another Engineer

        I think there is a lot of truth in this, not only for women, but for a lot of men too. As a male engineer, this is the main reason I regreat getting into engineering. I generally like the work, but the social environment really leaves a lot to be desired, and there really are very few jobs that allow one to work in an urban environment.

        March 23, 2012 at 1:01 am |
      • Another Engineer

        @ Engineer, I think there is a lot of truth in this, not only for women, but for a lot of men too. As a male engineer, this is the main reason I regret getting into engineering. I generally like the work, but the social environment really leaves a lot to be desired, and there really are very few jobs that allow one to work in an urban environment.

        March 23, 2012 at 1:03 am |
      • ES

        And what happens in 3-5 years when these social butterflies marry and have kids and want to move to suburbs? I work in a suburb. I could have at least 10% higher salary if I tool a work downtown but I can't because it is not a suitable location for raising young kids and I refuse to commute 2 hours each way like people working there do.

        March 23, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  49. stemzandroses

    The secret to job security is having a great attitude and work ethic. Women are excellent at STEM careers and need to be encouraged for job satisfaction and financial independence.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  50. ex-engineer

    STEM is a dead end in the US anyway. We have lot’s of cheap young male visa holders to keep wages down and eliminate even the hint of job security. 35 is considered UN-employable and Americans need not apply.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Julnor

      I work in a STEM field. My company had to lay off engineers. Most got jobs before they were even let go.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • engineer

      "STEM is a dead end in the US anyway"??? What are you talking about?

      From the U.S. Dept. of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, July 2011: "U.S. businesses frequently voice concerns over the supply and availability of STEM workers. Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs. STEM workers are also less likely to experience joblessness than their non-STEM counterparts."

      I think that pretty much says it all. So yeah, what a terrible field to be in. HA.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
      • sra

        "U.S. businesses frequently voice concerns over the supply and availability of STEM workers." Quoting this type of research shows you dont understand the dynamics of the labor market.

        The supply is definitely there, it is just that U.S. businesses refuse to pay a wage that would attract workers. There are LOTS of STEM graduates out there, but they have become mortgage brokers, high frequency traders, and real estate agents. If U.S. businesses pay a competitive wage, they will find all the STEM workers they need. Just do a Craigslist search to see what U.S. businesses want to pay for STEM workers - they want to pay a wage *competitive* to H1b foreign workers who are willing to work for $30k/yr.

        I'm a STEM graduate, but I refuse to work for $30k/yr. Or even $90k/yr if it means no job security, working 14hr workdays, and being glued to your blackberry. Think about it, why not just
        – become a government worker, do nothing, never get fired, get full health benefits and pension after 20yrs
        – become a real estate agent, make 150k/yr for light workdays, nice lunch breaks

        Any STEM graduate who actually wants to become a STEM worker is seriously uninformed -or- too uneducated to understand the basic math that goes into what i note above.

        March 23, 2012 at 12:12 am |
      • Obsidian002

        US businesses have been voicing concerns over the availability of STEM workers since before the 1980s. This is exactly like saying that oil companies voice concern over the availability of drilling sites – more is better for the companies because they can pay less (note: not better for the engineers!). But be assured that they will have their cheap labor one way (glut of STEM workers) or another (H1B visas).

        You may get into STEM thinking that you are limited resource and therefore valuable, but you are really just another cost to be minimized. The really appreciated and compensated folks are the sales people, who are the first ones to touch the money, and the executives, who cut the costs and decide how the money is split. You are the last to be paid.

        March 23, 2012 at 2:52 am |
      • Chip

        The trend is towards 'independent contractors', which means no benefits, and only incrementally higher wages, but long periods of on-call waiting by the cell for the next project. Engineering is becoming like trying to be an actor in Vancouver.

        March 23, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  51. Sean

    Maybe it's because you generally don't go very far in the sciences with an associate's degree?
    Let's look at the entire field of the natural sciences, not just the lab assistants.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Shannon

      Very true. Emphasis on the community college part of the title. Fewer women are enrolling in these courses at community colleges because they're likely attending four-year universities or tech-schools.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  52. swb

    Oh, no...we actually "found" a vocation women are lagging behind in...burn your bra, get to marching, this will not stand!!!

    March 22, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  53. Mak.Rasel

    Yes still woman behind the opportunity. In the Asian countries it's the common problem. Everybody should focus on it.

    March 22, 2012 at 5:43 pm |