Why Women Should Pursue STEM-Focused Careers


The long-term economic impacts of the pandemic on women’s careers and successes are of great concern and could have lasting impacts on both the Commonwealth economy and its available opportunities for women if policymakers and educators do not are not taking action now to correct these crippling employment disparities.

There is a silver lining: Women in STEM careers were more resistant to job losses and stressors kick them out of the labor market during the pandemic. Women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics have more job security and flexibility in their working lives and, in some cases, the the number of women in STEM jobs increased in 2020.

These jobs are more resistant to fluctuations in the labor market and able to withstand economic shocks. This glimmer of hope bodes well for Massachusetts, which overtakes the country in terms of concentration of STEM jobs.

About 600,000 people work in STEM professions in Massachusetts, and they represent one-fifth – about 17 percent – of the Commonwealth’s labor force, above the US average of 14 percent.

During the pandemic, STEM-related industries drove Massachusetts economic growth, up 6.9% from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. This growth was led by the professional, scientific, and service industries. , which has the highest concentration of STEM jobs across all industries.

Become thin these jobs will exceed average job growth and are expected to account for 40 percent of the total employment increase in Massachusetts. According to Massachusetts 2018-2028 job growth projections, STEM professions to increase by 7.2% vs. 3% in all professions.

But Massachusetts and the nation need more women in STEM jobs to potentially insulate them from economic shocks like the one we just experienced.

In Massachusetts, STEM jobs appear to be evenly distributed, with overall parity in the number of employees – 48.8% female and 51.2% male – but looking more closely at the four major industries in the industry. STEM industry, the situation is very different. The highest paid employment sectors have greater gender imbalances.

While women make up 78 percent of health care provider and licensed technician occupations in Massachusetts, they make up only 50 percent of life science, physical, and social occupations, 28 percent of computer occupations. and mathematics and 18 percent of occupations in architecture and engineering. This means that outside of health care, there are about three men for every woman in STEM jobs in Massachusetts – across the country the disparity is no better. The National Council of Women in Technology Scorecard shows that women hold only 19 percent of computer engineering jobs, 20 percent of computer programming jobs and 26 percent of computer jobs.

The Baker-Polito administration is working to encourage more young girls to pursue STEM studies and we are providing more opportunities for them to pursue STEM-focused careers. We are working in the public and private sectors to strengthen students’ basic skills and expand course offerings, and we have invested $ 100 million to modernize equipment in schools. We have broadened professional and academic pathways for young people to obtain industry-recognized degrees, and we have deepened partnerships with employers and higher education institutions to provide more learning experiences in the workplace. job. But we could do more if more companies were interested in offering STEM internships.

This week we will be holding the fourth edition Massachusetts STEM Week with schools, colleges, community organizations and businesses, which we hope will offer learners of all ages the opportunity to see themselves in STEM through hands-on projects and education.

The best way to guard against unintended economic impacts for current and future generations of Massachusetts women is to provide more young girls with STEM opportunities.

COVID-19 has highlighted many disparities and inequalities in our communities while demonstrating the critical role that STEM industries and professionals play. Supporting women in STEM fields should be one of the ways to tackle these inequalities head-on.

Karyn Polito is Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts and Co-Chair of the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council.

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