Women’s Representation among STEM College Majors: Are Gains Associated with Greater Representation in STEM Jobs for Women and Minorities?

Margaret L. Usdansky, Syracuse University

Isolation and discrimination are widely cited impediments to greater diversification of the STEM labor force. Gender remains an important basis of minority status within the natural sciences, reflecting uneven gains in women’s representation across scientific fields. We use NSF’s Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System (SESTAT) to explore the association between women’s representation among STEM majors in college (1970-2004) and those majors’ likelihood of STEM employment after graduation. Women’s representation ranges from a low of two percent in the 1970-74 engineering cohort to a high of 63 percent in the 2000-04 life science cohort. We find that White and Hispanic men and women whose cohorts included higher proportions of women are more likely to work in STEM than comparable women who experienced lower levels of women’s representation. We also find smaller gains for Asian men and women and for Black men.

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Presented in Session 218: Race and Gender Inequality in Economic Outcomes