- Both women and men want jobs that pay well, but men choose majors that lead to the highest paying careers while women choose majors that are more receptive to them, according to a study from The Ohio State University. "Even when women place great emphasis on earnings, other preferences may ultimately win out for them," the study’s author, Natasha Quadlin, assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State, said.
- The study included 2,720 students from three colleges with programs designed to attract and retain those majoring in STEM. Results showed that while women are as motivated by money as men, they tend to choose careers they perceive as more receptive and available to them, such as becoming a nurse over becoming a physician, or entering a helping profession over one based solely on earnings.
- "You may not be able to attract women to high-paying STEM careers just by telling them it is a way to make a lot of money or a way to help other people," Quadlin said. "Instead, we may have more to do with changing the culture around STEM so that women feel the field is more open and receptive to them."
Women's perception of certain careers as unwelcoming isn't without merit. Research from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School found that STEM companies rated the resumes of white male applicants with 3.75 GPAs as equivalent to female and nonnwhite applicants with 4.0 GPAs. And although the research found that women and people of color in the humanities weren't rated below white men, their abilities were valued less across all industries. Such bias may require HR to monitor recruiting and hiring decisions and flag disparities.
As much progress as white women have made in hiring and advancement, women remain underrepresented at all levels in their organizations, a report from LeanIn.org and McKinsey said. In fact, the research found that barriers to women's advancement doesn't begin at the "glass ceiling," but as early as their initial entry into management. Researchers said that fixing this "broken rung" at the managerial level is the key to parity.
Women's advancement into more leadership roles — and into industries like STEM — could benefit from mentorships, a number of experts have concluded. "I'm a big believer in mentorship for women by women, and female mentorship in the workplace is as important as ever," Amy Roy, chief people officer at Namely, told HR Dive via email for a previous article. "I've been fortunate to have had more than one mentor in my career who has provided insight that I might not have considered myself."
Sponsorships, in which a colleague vouches for a protege's abilities and contributions, also may be key to belonging. Unlike mentorships, which may be focused more on professional development, sponsorships are largely about advocating for someone's promotion.