Debugging the "Gender Gap" in STEM

Mahajan, Mandar
Major Professor
Anthony M Townsend
Committee Member
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Information Systems and Business Analytics

For the past six decades, the position and the situation of women in the United States of America has changed significantly. The most notable of this change has been in the American workforce. Today, more women are working outside the home then they have ever before. This is evident when we look at the number of people graduating each year with a degree in America. Today, the majority of college students graduating with a degree in the United States are women, compared to 23.9 % 60 years ago. However, this growth has not been consistent. There are several sectors where the lack of diversity in the workforce, especially the lack of gender diversity is still very prevalent. Nowhere this difference is more prevalent than in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) related fields. Although, the percentage of women graduating with a college degree has been steadily increasing for decades, recent studies have shown that the number of female students enrolling in the STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) related disciplines has been decreasing for the past 20 years, while the proportion of women resigning from the STEM-related jobs is on the increase.

Researchers for long have studied the apparent imbalance between women's proportion of the population and the percentage of the job they hold. Till now, most of the previous research in this field has looked at the percentage of women working at the STEM-related jobs and analyzed for the institutional and economic factors which contribute to the discrepancies in the levels of female representation in STEM jobs. However, there has not been much research done on this topic in recent years. In response to this scarcity of research on the topic, this paper will re- examine several of these factors, including socio-economic, institutional, and economic factors, in order to gain a better understanding of their relevance today. This paper will focus on Science, Technology, and Engineering fields in specific and study the changes over the past years.