It is time to change your major and go into a STEM field!
According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, though women constitute half of the total U.S. college-educated work force, they make up only 29 percent of the science and engineering fields.
In addition, the National Science Board research shows that there will be workforce shortages in jobs that require mathematical, scientific and technical skills.1 This means that the United States may not be able to continue to be an international leader in science and technology fields. Some experts have also predicted there will be a rise in employment opportunities, especially in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sector by more than 50 percent. Hence, there is need for a workforce adept in the STEM fields.
Yet another study by World Economic Forum (WEF) on Industry Gender Gap has revealed that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will create future workplace shortages which will undoubtedly impact women’s employment prospects. It will create disruptions in labor markets, as well as changes in business models across all industries.4 In this new market, some jobs will become redundant while others will see changes in the skills required, and still others will witness talent shortages owing to technological as well as sociopolitical and demographic changes.
This news may bode well for women in the workforce, those who intend to join the workforce in the future or return to it. The WEF’s Future of Jobs Report asked strategy and talent experts from reputed employers around the globe for their thoughts on the changing landscape of jobs and employment.3 Employers are increasingly inclined to recruit women to fill the talent pool, as part of their future workforce planning, but the numbers are still bleak when it comes to Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
At least 37 percent of the companies in ICT have considered tapping into the female talent pool to fulfill workforce shortages, according to the WEF’s study. Twenty percent of respondents across other industries also reported being under pressure from the government, public and media to address workforce gender imbalances.
WEF’s study also revealed concern among respondents about the lack of qualified talent in energy, ICT, aviation, automotive industries.3 This shortage (along with the shortage of women in STEM as a whole) is likely due to the lower proportion of women majoring in STEM areas.
This is a great opportunity for women in college to consider STEM courses or courses in similar fields that were traditionally “male-dominated,” such as manufacturing, production and architecture.
- Helpern, Diane F. et al. (2007). The Science of Sex Differences in Science and Mathematics. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270278/
- Retrieved from http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016/future-workforce-strategy/
- Zahidi, Saadia, & Leopold, Till (2016). Eight things women should know about the future of work. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/what-should-women-expect-from-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/
- Retrieved from http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016/
- Retrieved from https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/about/diversity/iwd/iwd-female-talent-report-web.pdf
- Wallace, Kelly (2016). The ‘boys are better at math’ mindset creates gender gap in sciences. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/12/health/female-scientists-engineers-math-gender-gap/index.html
- Retrieved from http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016/preface/