By the Numbers: Women in STEM: What do the statistics reveal about ongoing gender disparities?

November 27, 2020

By the Numbers: Women in STEM: What do the statistics reveal about ongoing gender disparities?

Art courtesy of Sophia Zhao.

Education: “The Leaky Pipeline”

By the time students reach middle school, more than twice as many boys as girls intend to work in science or engineering related jobs. (Charlesworth, 2019)

49.2% of women who originally intend to major in Science and Engineering as a first-year switch to a non-STEM major, compared to 32.5% of men. (National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics [NSF NCSES], 2017, 2019)

Nationally, women make up 57.3% of bachelor’s degree recipients but only 38.6% of STEM bachelor’s degree recipients.

  • In math and statistics, 42.4% of undergraduate degrees were awarded to women.
  • In the physical sciences, 39.1% of undergraduate degrees were awarded to women.
  • In the computer sciences, 18.7% of undergraduate degrees were awarded to women.
  • In the biological sciences, 60.5% of undergraduate degrees were awarded to women.
  • In engineering, 20.9% of undergraduate degrees were awarded to women.

(NSF NCSES, 2019)

At Yale, in 2019, women made up 47.5% of bachelor’s degree recipients but only 39.2% of STEM bachelor’s degree recipients.

  • In math and statistics, 26.1% of undergraduate degrees were awarded to women.
  • In the physical sciences, 42.5% of undergraduate degrees were awarded to women.
  • In the computer sciences, 19.3% of undergraduate degrees were awarded to women.
  • In the biological sciences, 54.3% of undergraduate degrees were awarded to women.
  • In engineering, 45.5% of undergraduate degrees were awarded to women.

(U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2019)

At Yale in 2019, the lowest proportions of women in STEM majors were in the following departments: 

  • 0% of Math and Computer Science majors were women.
  • 12.5% of Chemical Engineering majors were women.
  • 14.3% of Astrophysics majors were women.
  • 16.2% of Math majors were women.
  • 20% of Computer Science majors were women.
  • 20% of Physics majors were women.

(NCES, 2019)

At Yale, women make up 46.5% of undergraduate STEM students, but BIWOC are severely underrepresented.

  • Black women make up 2.2% of STEM students
  • Hispanic and/or Latinx women make up 4.8% of STEM students
  • Indigenous women make up 0.3% of STEM students
  • Hawaiian or Pacific Islander women make up 0% of STEM students
  • Women of two or more races make up 3% of STEM students

(NCES, 2019)

Percentages of Overall Bachelor’s Degree Recipients vs STEM Bachelor’s Degree Recipients

  • Undergraduate Degrees:
    • Men: 42.3%
    • Women: 57.7%
      • White Women: 34.7%
      • Asian Women: 3.73%
      • Hispanic/Latina Women: 8.0%
      • Black Women: 6.4%
      • American Indian or Alaska Native Women: 0.3%
      • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander Women: 0.15%
      • More than one race: 1.9%
  • STEM Undergraduate Degrees:
    • Men: 61.1%
    • Women: 38.9%
      • White Women: 23.3%
      • Asian Women: 5.0%
      • Hispanic/Latina Women: 4.6%
      • Black Women: 2.9%
      • American Indian or Alaska Native Women: 0.16%
      • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander Women: 0.08%
      • More than one race: 1.5%

Women represent 57.3% of undergraduates but only 38.6% of STEM undergraduates, or about two-thirds of the expected amount based on undergraduate enrollment. Moreover, underrepresented minority women represent 16.6% of undergraduates but only 9.16% of STEM undergraduates, or approximately one-half of the expected amount based on undergraduate enrollment.

(NSF NCSES, 2019)

As women move through the “leaky pipeline” of higher education, they become increasingly underrepresented.  While women receive 50.1% of STEM bachelor’s degrees, they only receive 44.3% of master’s degrees and 41% of doctorate degrees. Subsequently, they comprise 36% of postdoctoral fellows and 29% of employees.

(NSF NCSES, 2019)

For underrepresented minority women, once again, the disparities are even more severe. Underrepresented minority women receive 13.3% of STEM bachelor’s degrees, 12.4% of master’s degrees, and 6.8% of doctorate degrees, and they make up 4.8% of the workforce.

(NSF NCSES, 2019)

Employment

Women represent 52% of the college-educated workforce, but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce.

In some fields, this disparity is even worse.

  • Women account for 15.6% of the engineering workforce.
  • Women make up 25.4% of the computer science workforce.

BIWOC are even more underrepresented:

  • Latina/Hispanic women make up only 2.3% of the science and engineering workforce
  • Indigenous women make up only 0.07%
  • Black women represent only 2.5%

(NSF NCSES, 2019)

Women hold 76% of all healthcare jobs but represent only 40.8% of physicians and surgeons.

However, there is improvement, as women made up 50.5% of medical school students in 2019.

(U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020)

In academia, women are underrepresented in STEM faculty, a disparity that increases at higher levels.

  • Women make up 34.5% of STEM faculty at academic institutions.
    • Black women make up only 1.5%,
    • Latina/Hispanic women 2.0%, and
    • Indigenous women 0.08%
  • Women only make up 28.2% of tenured STEM faculty
    • Black women make up 1.4%
    • Hispanic/Latina women make up 1.3%
    • Indigenous women make up 0.04%

(NSF NCSES, 2019)

At Yale, 38.3% of STEM faculty are women, and 17.6% of tenured STEM faculty are women.

(NCES, 2019)

Percent of Women Faculty at Yale by Department:

  • Biological Sciences: 24.3% women
  • Physical Sciences: 17.9% women
  • SEAS: 20.3% women
  • Medicine: 41.1% women
  • F&ES: 19.2% women
  • Total STEM: 38.3% women

(NCES, 2019)

10% (2/20) of Directors of Undergraduate Studies in STEM departments are women

11% (2/18) of STEM department chairs are women

(Yale College Programs of Study 2020-2021, 2020)

In STEM occupations, women earn 81.6 cents to the dollar of men.

In healthcare occupations, women earn 71.7 cents to the dollar of men.

(U.S. Census Bureau, 2019)

Out of the Government National Laboratories and Research Centers, 86% of lab directors are white men, and only 5% are women. There are no women of color lab directors.

Women hold 26% of STEM-related leadership roles, and women of color hold only 3%.

From 2013-2019, women represented only 8% of CEOs at Biotech IPO companies.

Only 18% of leadership roles at prestigious tech companies are held by women.

(Russell & Metcalf, 2019)

Of the 616 Nobel Laureates in Physics, Science, and Medicine and Physiology from 1901-2019, only 19 were women.

(“Nobel Prize,” 2020)

A study of NIH funding from 2006-2017 found that female first-time principal investigators received a median grant of about $40,000 less than their male counterparts, when controlling for research potential. (Oliveira et al., 2019)

Pushing Women out of STEM

Women are severely underrepresented in the media. Only 37% of STEM professionals portrayed in the media are women. (Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media & The Lydia Hill Foundation, 2018)

In science education materials, 75% of adults depicted in a science profession were men, and only 25% were women. (Kerkhoven et al., 2016)

When asked to draw a scientist, only 28% of kids (boys and girls) drew a female scientist. Boys almost always drew men, and girls were twice as likely to draw men as they were to draw women. (Berwick, 2019)

This difference got worse with age, as 70% of 6-year-old girls drew a woman, whereas only 25% of 16-year-old girls did. (Terada, 2019)

50% of women in STEM in academic institutions have experienced sexual harassment.

 (National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2018)

Half (50%) of women in STEM jobs have said that they experienced discrimination in the workplace, compared to 41% of women in non-STEM jobs.

(Funk & Parker, 2018)

Over 70% of women in STEM regularly reported experiencing the following microaggressions and biases related to their competence and merit:

  • Had their judgement questioned in their area of expertise
  • Had to work harder than others to prove themselves
  • Have had to provide more evidence of competence than their peers
  • Have had others explain things to them in their area of expertise
  • Have been assumed to be more junior than they are
  • Have had their accomplishments or ideas credited to someone else

(Russell & Metcalf, 2019)

90% of women who report sexual misconduct experience retaliation.

(Campbell, 2019)

SOURCES:

Berwick, C. (2019, March 12). Keeping Girls in STEM: 3 Barriers, 3 Solutions. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/keeping-girls-stem-3-barriers-3-solutions

Campbell, M. (2019, May 23). MeTooSTEM: A Mission to End Sexual Harassment in STEM. Technology Networks. https://www.technologynetworks.com/tn/articles/metoostem-a-mission-to-end-sexual-harassment-in-stem-319750

Charlesworth, T., & Banaji, M. R. (2019). Gender in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: Issues, Causes, Solutions. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience39(37), 7228–7243. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0475-18.2019

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6759027/#B102

Funk, C. & Parker, K. (2018, January 9). Women and Men in STEM Often at Odds Over Workplace Equity. Pew Research Center: Social & Demographic Trends. https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/women-and-men-in-stem-often-at-odds-over-workplace-equity/

Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media & The Lydia Hill Foundation. (2018). Portray Her: Representation of Women STEM Characters in Media. See Jane. https://seejane.org/research-informs-empowers/portray-her/

Kerkhoven, A. H., Russo, P., Land-Zandstra, A. M., Saxena, A., & Rodenburg, F. J. (2016). Gender Stereotypes in Science Education Resources: A Visual Content Analysis. PloS one11(11), e0165037. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0165037

National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2018). Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/24994

https://www.nap.edu/resource/24994/Sexual%20Harassment%20of%20Women%20ReportHighlights.pdf

National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. (2017). Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2017. (Special report NSF 17-310). https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2017/nsf17310/data.cfm

National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. (2019). Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2019. (Special report NSF 19-304). https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf19304/data

Nobel Prize awarded women. (2020). The Nobel Prize. Retrieved October 5, 2000, from https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/lists/nobel-prize-awarded-women/

Office of Institutional Research. (2019). Yale College Majors by Gender. Yale University. https://oir.yale.edu/sites/default/files/w045_yc_majors_gender.pdf

Oliveira, D. F., Ma, Y., Woodruff, T. K., & Uzzi, B. (2019). Comparison of National Institutes of Health grant amounts to first-time male and female principal investigators. Jama321(9), 898-900.

Russell, A. & Metcalf, H. (2019). Transforming STEM Leadership Culture. Association for Women in Science. https://www.awis.org/leadership-report/

Terada, Y. (2019, May 22). 50 Years of Children Drawing Scientists. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/50-years-children-drawing-scientists

U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Yale University. https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/InstitutionProfile.aspx?unitid=130794

U.S. Census Bureau. (2019). Occupation by Sex and Median Earnings in the Past 12 Months (in 2019 Inflation-Adjusted Dollars) for the Civilian Employed Population 16 Years and Over. Retrieved from https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=S2411&tid=ACSST1Y2019.S2411&hidePreview=true

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020). Employed Persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.htm.

Yale College Programs of Study 2020-2021. (2020). Yale University. Retrieved October 5, 2000, from https://catalog.yale.edu/ycps/majors-in-yale-college/.

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