Men and women in STEM disagree over workplace gender inequality
- Women are more apt to feel hostility in in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions than men, according to a Pew Social Trends survey by Pew Research Center. The study reveals that sexual harassment and discrimination may be more prevalent in the STEM fields, and that being a woman in a STEM occupation is often seen as a disadvantage. The center polled 4,914 adults (2,344 were STEM workers), ages 18 and older between July and August 2017.
- Survey results also show that women in STEM jobs (50%) were more likely to face discrimination at work than women in non-STEM jobs (41%). But both groups of women said they experienced sexual harassment equally and were more likely than men to say they were treated unfairly at work.
- Blacks and Hispanics were found to be under-represented in STEM occupations, with the number of blacks increasing only slightly from 7% in 1990 to 9% today and Hispanics from 4% to 7% in the same time period. According to the survey, 62% of blacks in STEM jobs said they experienced racial discrimination at work, compared to 50% outside of STEM fields.
Pew survey results affirm what other studies on gender and race disparities in STEM occupations and workplaces have found. Some of the biggest names in the tech industry, including Microsoft, Google and Oracle, have been accused of discriminating against women in hiring, pay and promotions.
Tech company cultures have been especially under fire for cultivating and sustaining hostile work environments, where sexual discrimination and misconduct allegedly thrive, but recent discourse has spread beyond Silicon Valley. Ford, Social Finance Inc., Uber and ESPN are among companies that were most recently accused of creating such work environments until sexual harassment claims against them went public.
But as widespread and egregious as sex discrimination and misconduct are in the workplace, an Ascend Leadership report claims that race discrimination is a bigger problem for tech companies than gender bias (something the Pew study makes clear as well). Black women were the least likely to be hired and retained, according to that report, and their hiring rate even decreased by 13% between 2007 and 2015.
CEOs routinely make public commitments to fairness and diversity, but to see real change, companies must put in real, constant effort by creating avenues for inclusion. That includes creating employee resource groups, strengthening feedback tools and improving mentorship programs so that women can be sponsored for leadership positions at the same rate as men. Until middle managers and supervisors carry out this commitment in recruitment, hiring and engagement practices and enforce anti-bias workplace policies, gender and race discrimination across industries will persist.