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Women in STEM: 2017 Update

In March, the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) released the first in a series of reports updating and expanding our previous work examining the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce. That first report, "STEM Jobs: 2017 Update," provided an overview of STEM workers and their earning power. This second report provides a more detailed look at the gender dynamics of the STEM economy.

America's STEM workforce is crucial for generating new ideas, receiving and commercializing patents, and providing the flexibility and critical thinking required in the modern economy. While women continue to make gains across the broader economy, they remain underrepresented in STEM jobs and among STEM degree holders. Crafting policy to tap into the potential of women to contribute further in this vital sector requires an understanding of how gender is currently related to participation and success in STEM jobs.

Key findings in this report, which are consistent with previous research, including research done by OCE, are the following.

  • Women filled 47 percent of all U.S. jobs in 2015 but held only 24 percent of STEM jobs. Likewise, women constitute slightly more than half of college educated workers but make up only 25 percent of college educated STEM workers.
  • Women with STEM jobs earned 35 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs — even higher than the 30 percent STEM premium for men. As a result, the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs. Women with STEM jobs also earned 40 percent more than men with non-STEM jobs.
  • While nearly as many women hold undergraduate degrees as men overall, they make up only about 30 percent of all STEM degree holders. Women make up a disproportionately low share of degree holders in all STEM fields, particularly engineering.
  • Women with STEM degrees are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation; they are more likely to work in education or healthcare.
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