Data Check: Women still struggle for equity in STEM fields

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A recent study from Statistics Canada observed that women are still under-represented in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer science), despite their growing presence in these fields. The Statcan National Household Survey for 2011 revealed that 59 per cent of 25-34 year-olds with a university degree were women. Women’s share of STEM degrees, however, was 39 per cent.

With the exception graduates from technology fields (excluding engineering technology), women did not fare as well as their male counterparts in the labour market. The unemployment rate for women in other STEM fields were higher than the rate for men, and the aggregate unemployment rate for women in STEM fields also was worse than for women in non-STEM disciplines.

A similar pattern held for the match between women’s educational qualifications and job skill requirements. Only in technology roles  did women find more success than men. But even in those positions they were worse off than women in all other fields except mathematics and computer science.

It is no surprise that differences in pay endure, regardless of field of study. The median salary for women in STEM fields was $9,100 less than it was for men. Even in that one field where they were otherwise more successful – technology – women’s median salary was $4,900 less than for their male counterparts.

Source: Hango, Darcy. 2013. “Gender differences in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer science (STEM) programs at university” Insights on Canadian Society. December. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 75-006-X

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