Uneven progress on STEM job diversity

On Behalf of | Aug 10, 2021 | Employment Law |

The so-called STEM occupations involving science, technology, engineering and math are in some of the most lucrative and in-demand fields. According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, the workforce has remained chiefly male-dominated with much higher percentages of Whites and Asians — Healthcare is the one notable exception where women dominate the workforce.

Not pursuing degrees

In recent years, there has been a stated goal among employers and schools to increase racial, gender, and ethnic diversity, but the study indicates that there is still a long way to go. Researchers looked at the trends in degree attainment that numbers of STEM degrees have dramatically increased overall since 2010. Still, they found that Blacks and Hispanics remain less likely to get degrees in STEM than other areas, so numbers in those STEM fields will remain substantially lower than their share of the general population. While women earn a majority of college and advanced degrees, they also generally remain underrepresented in the STEM workforce

Pay gaps an issue

STEM jobs include healthcare, computers, engineers and architects, physical scientists, life scientists and mathematical workers. The average breakdown in pay in 2019 was:

  • Asian men: $103,300
  • White men: $99,600
  • Asian women: $88,600
  • Hispanic men: $73,000
  • Black men: $69,200
  • White women: $66,200
  • Black and Hispanic women: $57,000

Men’s overall average pay is $90,000, and women’s average is $66,200.

Businesses can make an impact

There are also some positives in the study, notably a rise in the number of people getting STEM degrees in the last ten years. Still, a less diverse talent pool means there remain fewer high-paying jobs among groups that advocates in business and education try to elevate.

Companies can do their part by cultivating a diverse culture in the workplace. Some ways to do this involve changing employee policies to close the pay gaps among genders and ethnicities, put the underrepresented in leadership positions, and provide healthy and supportive work environments for all employees. There are still employment laws to navigate when doing this, so it is best to consult with employment law attorneys who can help keep companies compliant with all laws and regulations.