The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) just issued a report on the participation of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs in the federal government in fiscal year (FY) 2019. The report found that women accounted for 29.3% of STEM federal workers during that period.
Percentage of federal STEM workforce that is made up of women according to the EEOC.
Jobs in science were the most popular with 49,546 women employed with the federal government. Math jobs had the lowest number of female employees at 6,469. Disparities included the fact that 16,454 women had leadership roles compared to 47,167 men. Just 25.9% of all STEM leaders were women, according to the report.
- Women accounted for 29.3% of STEM employees within the federal government in FY 2019.
- Jobs in science were the most popular; math was the least.
- Only 25.9% of all STEM leaders were women.
- Women in STEM average almost 2 years younger than their male counterparts.
- Contrary to popular belief, general harassment complaints by women outnumbered sexual harassment claims by more than 5 times (1,986 to 358).
- The report found that women were 40% less likely to work in engineering, 33% more likely to work in math, and almost 92% more likely to work in science than in technology jobs.
Underrepresentation and Harassment
Given the fact women make up roughly half the population of the United States, a 29.3% participation rate in STEM jobs at the federal level points to significant under-representation. This is not news. As the report points out, “Despite a reversal in the gender gap in terms of undergraduate enrollment, women still enroll in STEM majors at lower rates than their male counterparts, are less likely to pursue postgraduate degrees in STEM fields, and less likely than their male counterparts to work in STEM after graduating.”
Percentage of all federal STEM leaders that are women.
Harassment, both general and sexual is highlighted as a concern. Researchers noted that well before women enter the STEM job market they express concerns about work-life balance, gender bias, harassment, and a limited number of female role models and mentors at the academic level.
A lack of role models and women in leadership positions continues in the federal workforce, according to the EEOC report. In FY 2019, there were 16,454 women in leadership roles compared to 47,167 men. Just 25.9% of all STEM leaders were women.
In FY 2019, 34,483 federal-level female STEM professionals were counseled with 14,096 deciding to file formal complaints. Of those, 358 were sexual harassment complaints. General harassment complaints numbered 1,986.
Pay discrepancies between men and women in the federal STEM workforce mirror those in private employment. The average difference in pay between men, who are paid more, and women, is $4,305.89 per year.
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In practice, women are paid less in science, engineering, and math, but more in technology. According to the report, women are paid more in tech because there are fewer of them and they tend to occupy higher grades, which are compensated at a higher level.
The report indicated a strong relationship between women’s intentions to leave their current agency and complaint activity. This was especially true with sexual harassment complaints where women were even more likely to leave their job with the federal government.
Conversely, when women believed their supervisors were committed to a diverse workforce, fewer counseling sessions and fewer formal complaints occurred. After taking compensation into account, the EEOC report found that women were 40% less likely to work in engineering, 33% more likely to work in math, and nearly 92% more likely to work in science than in technology.
The FY2019 EEOC report recommends the recruitment of more women in Technology and Engineering including women from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds. All federal STEM occupational groups are further encouraged to meet the 12% target for hiring women with disabilities, up from the current rate of 10.7%.
STEM agencies are directed to create leadership development programs for women in order to increase the number in leadership roles moving forward. Harassment of all kinds should be addressed through the use of organizational assessments in STEM occupational groups and agencies are encouraged to collect exit interview data for women in STEM to determine if there are issues related to discrimination or harassment that led to them leaving the workforce.