Some American colleges are finding answers to a question that has bedeviled employers and policy makers alike: how to get more women into the high-paying, in-demand fields that drive today’s economy.
Those schools, a new analysis finds, are using a range of strategies — from hiring more women faculty in fields where they’re traditionally underrepresented to setting up specific programs geared toward advancing female students’ ambitions in science, technology, engineering and math, or “STEM” — to prepare women for careers historically dominated by male graduates.
Their results offer a window into the role higher education could play in increasing the number of women in STEM fields.
Women make up roughly 30% of the employees at Apple, Google-owner Alphabet and Facebook, according to company diversity data released earlier this year. Some blame that on “pipeline issues,” saying there are too few women graduating college with the necessary credentials.
The numbers support that contention. Just 29 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded to women were in science and engineering fields in 2014, compared with 40 percent for men, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.
The share of 2014 female graduates with science and engineering degrees drops to 12 percent when social sciences and psychology are eliminated.
Women received just 19.9 percent of the engineering degrees awarded in the U.S. in 2014, according to the American Society for Engineering Education.
STEM degrees are typically valuable. The median salary of a 2008 bachelor’s degree recipient in STEM was $60,000 in 2012, compared with $46,000 for bachelor’s degree recipients overall, according to a July 2014 report from the Department of Education.
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