Why Do Women Leave Science and Engineering Fields?

To say that women are underrepresented in science and engineering fields is an understatement. It is also an oversimplification, because representation of women in STEM fields is a nuanced issue. Consider for instance that while women are undeniably underrepresented in engineering fields, 8205174905_280c35031e_zthey are overrepresented in life sciences. This dichotomy manifests itself in a glaring gender patenting gap, where women hold a very low share of patents. In the recent ILR Review article “Why Do Women Leave Science and Engineering?” author Jennifer Hunt seeks to better understand why women exit STEM fields, focusing particularly on engineering. The abstract for her paper:

The author uses the 2003 and 2010 National Survey of College Graduates to examine the higher exit rate of women compared to men from science and engineering relative to other fields. The author finds that the higher relative exit rate is driven by engineering rather than science, and that half the gap can be explained by the relatively greater exit rate from ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointengineering of women dissatisfied with pay and promotion opportunities. Family-related constraints and dissatisfaction with working conditions are found to be only secondary factors. The relative exit rate by gender from engineering does not differ from that of other fields once women’s relatively high exit rates from male fields generally are taken into account.

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*Scientist image credited to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (CC)

2 thoughts on “Why Do Women Leave Science and Engineering Fields?

  1. Pingback: Why Do Women Leave Science and Engineering Fields? | SAGE Connection – Insight

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