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Is Equality in STEM Improving? A Look at the Statistics

There's a whole lot of talk about improving equality in STEM, but what do the statistics say?

Corporate giants such as Google claim to be working to promote diversity in their workforce, but are things really changing? Let’s examine the statistics to find out.

Google’s 2017 inaugural diversity report reviews the company’s hiring and retention performance as well as gender and diversity balance. 

According to the report, turnover was the highest among African-American workers, followed by Hispanic staff members. On a brighter note, however, the firm fared well in retaining female professionals.

Apple’s recent diversity report revealed that its hiring performance is stagnant among women and minorities. Although the firm showcased its hiring of more female executives during 2017, company officials admit that this small success did not come easy.

Globally, males compose nearly 75-percent of Apple’s workforce, and in the United States, more than half of the firm’s employees are Caucasian. 

In response to these statistics, company officials cite that 27-percent of all new hires and 50-percent of employees hired by the company’s tech divisions during 2017 were underrepresented minorities.

A Look at Women in STEM

A recent report finds that half of all women who work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace. 

This revelation comes on the heels of the lawsuit filed by a disgraced Google engineer who reported that conservative white males are victims in Silicon Valley.

The engineer, James Damore, was terminated after composing a disparaging 10-page memo about his female peers. In his lawsuit, Damore attempted to make his case by stating that Google was overly concerned with gender and racial equality and does a disservice to white male professionals.

Despite Damore’s protests, a study of STEM professionals reveals that only 19-percent of men report experiencing gender bias compared to 50-percent of women, and for certain technology professions, this number rose to nearly 80-percent of women.

Part of the problem is that a disproportionately small segment of women pursue STEM training. This applies at secondary and university levels. 

However, this is slowly changing as more learning institutions and organizations launch programs that promote the participation of women in STEM sciences.

Scientists have uncovered empirical evidence that shows little difference between men and women regarding the ability to perform well in STEM fields. Further analyses reveal that men and women perform similarly across a range of skills.

These statistics show that our society needs to do a better job at encouraging women to study and enter STEM fields. So how can we make STEM careers more welcoming?

“We can to increase the % of female employees working within the tech sector in America’s biggest companies by instituting more family friendly policies, said Carolyn Parker, Ph.D., director of the Master of Arts in Teaching Program in the School of Education at American University. “Policies such as company-based or subsidized day care, flexible work hours, and work-from-home options.”

“I also think that allowing women to take leave when they have or adopt a child, without penalizing their career trajectory, would help a lot. Basically, allowing woman to take leave from their positions at a large company for a year or two (or three) and then allowing them to return to the company into the same or similar position would help a lot to support women in the tech fields.”

How Diverse Are the Nation’s Biggest Tech Giants?

While still subject to the shade of the year’s controversial Senate hearings, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also faced scrutiny concerning the company’s diversity and inclusion practices. 

Overall, the social media giant’s performance is average compared to the nation’s other leading tech enterprises.

Still, America’s technology companies appear to be providing the most opportunities for minority and female workers. Pinterest, for instance, reported the largest segment of female workers, with a talent roster that consists of 45-percent women. 

Amazon reported that African-Americans compose 21-percent of their talent pool, while Apple reported that 13-percent of their staff members were Hispanic.

However, these numbers originate from the many employees that the companies hire outside of the tech sector. Elsewhere, Lyft transportation firm reports that 30-percent of their managers are women. 

Meanwhile, Amazon revealed that African-Americans and Hispanics represent only 5-percent of management for their firm. Apple and Pinterest did not perform much better, with a combined total of 7-percent Hispanic leadership.

The two tech firms do report the highest share of female technology specialists, with Pinterest hiring 29-percent and Amazon hiring 27-percent of female technology professionals.

Is Change on the Way?

Little has changed since researchers began collecting data in the 70s regarding discrimination and bias against women and minorities. 

Despite a history of persistent inequity, today’s female entrepreneurs own more than 30-percent of all United States enterprises, amounting to more than 9.1 million firms. As a whole, these firms generate more than $70 billion annually.

The nation’s leaders have much work to do to promote balance in STEM academia and careers. 

Promoting STEM training to men and women equally would go a long way toward furthering this agenda. Furthermore, the nation’s STEM professionals must make a sincere effort to mentor aspiring minorities and females who are interested in training and working in the technology field.

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