Women and STEM

Women and STEM

Marianne Robin Russo (Florida Atlantic University, USA) and Kristin Brittain (Florida Atlantic University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch052


While battling great odds in terms of discrimination and bias, women within the United States have made valuable contributions to the workforce. Now that the second decade of the 21st century is upon us, women have come into all facets of the workforce, finding a niche in Internet Communications Technology (ICT) as well as within Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), which should allow women more of an opportunity to pursue occupations. However, it seems that women are lagging in this part of the workforce within the constructs of science, technology, education, and mathematics also known as STEM. This glass ceiling, or gender barrier, may make matters worse in terms of reporting these kinds of women's issues because these reports are often written by men. In addition, the ideas and perceptions of masculinity and femininity have been scrutinized and analyzed in this chapter, and it is not difficult to realize the differences in gender based on biological functions.
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Women And The Current Workforce

Now that the second decade of the 21st century is upon us, women have come into all facets of the workforce. Within the Internet Communication Technology (ICT) sector, “women continue to add value to the technology workplace (BizTech Africa, 2013, p. 1). “The dynamic and innovative Internet and Technology (IT) environment challenges women to assume a more interactive role in the workplace. In the IT space, risk taking and risk mitigation, combined with their emotional quotient (EQ), are the major drivers and differentiators” (BizTech Africa, 2013, p. 2).

In terms of ICT, which is a part of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), this mode of communication and global connection is expanding and with this should be opportunity for more women who would like to pursue occupations in technology. ICT is only one aspect of STEM. Other related fields are also discussed in terms of men when compared with women in STEM fields, Gorman, Durmowicz, Roskes, and Slattery (2010) state there is a gap in STEM employment, state that there is a disparity in the amount of women within the fields of STEM, and “From the perspective of women in the academy, it is of special interest to note that these concerns occur in the context of a gender imbalance in the STEM workforce (Gorman et al., 2010, p. 2). In addition, according to Marcantoni, Castellino, Cicchetti, Mallamci, and Rastelli (2011) “Men are more likely than women to opt for physical science, mathematics and computing, but it is engineering, manufacturing and construction that have the greatest differentiation of choice, with 18.5% of men graduating in this area, compared with 6.9% of women” (p. 387). Furthermore, “The pattern of two sexes polarized or concentrated within scientific fields or occupations at the same level is called horizontal segregation: it represents differences that do not necessarily imply inequality between women and men (Marcantoni et al., 2011, p. 387).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics (STEM): Educational categories of study.

Recruitment: Efforts to hire disenfranchised groups within the job market.

Gender Perceptions: Social and cultural perceptions of males and females.

Internet Communication Technology (ICT): A sector of the workforce and technology that encompasses the area of the Internet.

Gender-Bias: The social and cultural perceptions and beliefs about males and females that propagate and sustain gender competencies.

Gender: Refers to the social construct established to distinguish between males and females.

Glass Ceiling: The cultural and social constructs that prevent a disenfranchised group from gaining economic and positional power.

Stereotypic Threat: An internal or external manifestation that creates anxiety for women who may be crossing perceived gender constructs.

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