Gender inequality in many STEM fields has been making headlines for years. While women have been part of the workforce for decades. Yet, they still face hurdles in many male-dominated fields.
While the situation has certainly improved over time, there is still a lot of work to be done to completely overcome gender inequality in STEM. Here is a look at the challenges that still exist and some of the steps that may be necessary to make equality a reality.
Women in STEM – The Impact of Bias
For many years, many people have assumed that women aren’t as widely represented in STEM for reasons that don’t appear to be true. Some claim that female students weren’t encouraged to head into those fields. Thus, causing them to opt for other careers. Others say that the desire for work-life balance was responsible, leading them to view STEM fields as too demanding.
While those reasons may hold true for some, bias is a larger factor. According to a study by Pew Research Center, half of the women working in STEM positions state that they’ve experienced one or more forms of gender-related discrimination while at work, while only 19 percent of men make the same assertion.
Twenty-nine percent of women said they were treated as if they were less competent due to their gender. Twenty percent encountered small but repeated slights, while 19 percent said they had less support from senior leadership than their male counterparts. Those are just some of the challenges women in STEM say they face.
In some cases, those issues cause women working in STEM to leave their fields. In others, it discourages women who were considering STEM careers from pursuing their preferred specialty, fearing that they’ll face the same hardships.
Without addressing the issues that can arise from gender bias, women may continue to struggle, causing them to avoid STEM even if they could thrive in it.
Addressing the Gender Inequality in STEM
Addressing gender bias isn’t a simple task. It requires a multi-phased approach, including everything from actively encouraging them to pursue STEM majors and supporting them equally in the work environment.
Additionally, company leaders need to make sure that unconscious biases don’t impact the employee experience. This includes revamping hiring processes, ensuring all employees are respected for their expertise and creating inclusive workplaces where every worker can be themselves.
If your company is trying to figure out where to start. They can begin by speaking with your female team members. Learn about the biases they’ve encountered during their career and see if there are steps you can take to eliminate the issue from your workplace if it is present. Offer hiring managers training to ensure unconscious and conscious biases don’t affect their decisions and work to provide all employees in the same positions with similar opportunities.
By being aware of the potential issues, you can work to prevent them. As you do, your company will get closer to gender equality, something that is good for your entire workforce.
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