According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, although women constitute half of the total US college-educated workforce, they make up only 29 percent of the science and engineering fields.1
In addition, the National Science Board research shows that there will be workforce shortages in jobs that require mathematical, scientific, and technical skills.2 This means that unless these impending shortages are addressed, the US may not be able to continue to be an international leader in scientific and technological fields. Some experts have also predicted there will be rise in employment opportunities, especially in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) sector, where openings will increase by more than 50 percent.3 Hence, there is need for a workforce adept in the STEM fields.
Yet another report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on The Future of Jobs has revealed that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (characterized by a fusion of technologies that blends the physical, digital, and biological) will create future workplace shortages, which will in turn undoubtedly impact women’s employment prospects. It will also 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 who intend to join or return to the workforce in the future. The WEF’s report asked strategy and talent experts from reputed employers around the globe for their thoughts on the changing landscape of jobs and employment. Employers are increasingly inclined to recruit women to fill the depleted talent pool, as part of their future workforce planning, but the numbers are still bleak when it comes to Information and Communication Technology (ICT).5
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.6 Twenty percent of respondents across other industries also reported being under pressure from the government, public, and media to address workforce gender imbalances.7
The WEF’s study also revealed concern among respondents about the lack of qualified talent in energy, ICT, aviation, and automotive industries.8 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.
- “Statistics,” National Girls Collaborative Project, accessed April 20, 2018, https://ngcproject.org/statistics.
- Diane F. Halpern, Camilla P. Benbow, David C. Geary, Ruben C. Gur, Janet Shibley Hyde, and Morton Ann Gernsbacher, “The Science of Sex Differences in Science and Mathematics,” Psychological Science in the Public Interest 8, no. 1 (August 2007): 1, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1529-1006.2007.00032.x.
- “The Future of Jobs,” World Economic Forum, accessed April 21, 2018, http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016/.
- World Economic Forum, The Future of Jobs Report: Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, January 2016, http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016/.
- Ibid., 34.
- Ibid., 127.
- Ibid., 38.