Workplace discrimination in STEM reinforces sweeping social campaigns
- More women than men identify sexual harassment as a problem in the workplace. In the office, 36% of women identified it as a problem compared to 28% of men; in across industries, 55% of women and 50% of men identified it as a problem, according to a Pew Research Center study of almost 5,000 U.S. adults.
- Women in STEM jobs are three times more likely than men to experience sexual harassment at work, with 22% of women admitting to such an experience, according to the report. Percentages for sexual harassment experiences were on par in STEM and non-STEM work.
- In STEM jobs, women were about three times more likely to say their gender made it harder for them to succeed. Individuals who responded that their gender made it harder to succeed identified influencing factors such as barriers to hiring, promotion and salary, treatment by coworkers and being held to different standards.
While STEM jobs are often recognized for higher earning potential compared to other industries, the technology industry has not been known as a beacon of diversity, inclusion and equality. Representation of women, especially relative to many other industries, has lagged behind.
Systematic discrimination and resulting turnover and losses of productivity can cost a company millions — and Silicon Valley billions. Women have been identified as a demographic capable of filling the talent void in fields such as cybersecurity, but unless harassment and discrimination problems are addressed, the positive effects can be easily negated.
Women in leadership positions is lagging behind. Only 16% of CIOs are women in the U.S., and in the financial industry, which has the most women in leadership positions, only 26% of CIOs are women. Disparities in leadership inevitably trickle down through an organization.
Mentors and sponsors can help workers move up through the ranks, but oftentimes employees in higher positions select people to work with that look like themselves. For women and minorities, this can create an initial barrier to success. Stigmas against male-female pairings in mentorships or sponsorships can sometimes raise suspicions, but the need for equal opportunity demands a cultural change to address this.
- Pew Research Center Women and Men in STEM Often at Odds Over Workplace Equity
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