Introducing Women In STEM Fields

Guest Blogs from Women in STEM Careers

Much of the innovation that has driven the economy since World War ll has been created by workers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. If the United States intends to continue to lead the world economy through innovation, consideration has to be given to how this country attracts and develops those innovators. Historically, many innovators immigrated to the US (sometimes fleeing oppression in their homelands and others simply seeking opportunity). Innovators born and educated in the US have come from broad educational experience. The questions of how best to foster competitiveness and driving innovation are critical to our future success.


The National Science Foundation uses a broader definition of STEM fields including: chemistry, computer and information technology science, engineering, geosciences, life sciences, mathematical sciences, physics and astronomy, social sciences (anthropology, economics, psychology and sociology). They also created an action plan to address the need for people working in those fields.


In January of 2010 President Obama announced an educational initiative for STEM fields. Through a series of public, private and collaborative programs the President started a campaign to stimulate interest and education in STEM fields. In May 2013 a 5-year strategic plan for education in STEM fields was produced by the National Science and Technology Council. In November of 2013 the Center for Educational Statistics produced a report on Paths Into and Out Of STEM Fields. This work followed college students in STEM and non-STEM fields through their academic choices (from 2004 through 2009). This study revealed a complex series of patterns associated with changing to non-STEM majors and dropping out of college for those who started as STEM students. The study is worth thoughtful consideration for those interested.


There is a remarkable gender gap in STEM fields. Women are underrepresented in STEM field jobs (holding less than ¼ of them). Women in the STEM fields have a smaller wage gap (compared to men) than those working in other fields, and can be found among top professionals. Yet women’s paths to STEM careers are varied. To explore how a dozen women got to their STEM careers, Research Design Associates will host numerous guest bloggers. They are women (mostly under 40) who will tell their stories of how they came to their careers in STEM fields. Their stories vary widely. The career paths are often hauling, changing and surprising. Each of these women made her way before government initiatives, through a wide variety of educational paths. I think you’ll find them interesting. I’m sure you’ll find their stories engaging. Perhaps they will provide models to other women seeking a career in STEM fields.



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