Talent

Women in STEM Face Discrimination, Harassment

A new report from Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank, finds that women working in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are much more likely than men to experience gender discrimination and sexual harassment at work.

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Pew also finds that companies are not stepping up to address these issues, and that women often feel it is up to them to find solutions.

Research Shows

Half of women in STEM jobs, 50 percent, say they have experienced discrimination at work, compared to 19 percent of men. These are among the types of discrimination they have experienced:

  • Earned less than a woman/man doing the same job – 29 percent of women in STEM vs. 6 percent of men
  • Were treated as if they were not competent – 29 percent of women vs. 4 percent of men
  • Experience repeated, small slights at work – 20 percent of women vs. 4 percent of men
  • Received less support from senior leaders than a woman/man doing same job – 18 percent of women vs. 9 percent of men
  • Felt isolated in the workplace – 11 percent of women vs. 5 percent of men
  • Been passed over for the most important assignments – 9 percent of women vs. 4 percent of men
  • Been turned down for a job – 7 percent of women vs. 4 percent of men
  • Been denied a promotion – 6 percent of women vs. percent of men

Women in STEM working in majority-male workplaces perceive even more gender inequalities. According to the report, 79 percent of women in these environments feel the need to prove themselves at work all/some of the time, while 48 percent say their gender has made it harder to succeed in their job.
As for leadership support, 43 percent of women in STEM working in majority-male workplaces say their workplace pays too little attention to increasing gender diversity. Nearly half, 48 percent, say sexual harassment is a problem in their workplace.

Getting the Job

Interestingly, gender inequalities do not appear to be issues when recruiting and hiring for majority-male workplaces. A full 81 percent of women say they have been treated fairly during the recruitment and hiring process.
Alongside other findings, this suggests women have access to opportunities, at least initially, but that companies do not follow through to create a welcoming environment and provide the support necessary for talent development and career advancement.

Women in Tech

The challenges are even greater for women in computer jobs, compared to STEM jobs overall. A vast majority, 74 percent, of women in computer jobs have experienced gender-related discrimination at work, compared to 14 percent of men.
In addition, 30 percent of women in computer jobs say they have experienced sexual harassment at work.
Another finding Pew researchers share is worth noting: “In computer occupations, a job cluster which includes computer scientists, systems analysts, software developers, information systems managers and programmers – the STEM job cluster that has seen the most growth in recent decades – women’s representation has actually decreased from 32 percent in 1990 to 25 percent today.”

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.