Breaking Down Barriers for Women in STEM


Even in 2019, women are still underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Statistics from the National Girls Collaborative Project show that although half of the U.S. workforce is women, only 28% work in science and engineering. According to a 2017 UNESCO report, global rates are similar: 28% of the world’s researchers are female.

While STEM education and awareness is increasing, only one in three women feel that they are encouraged to pursue a career in it, according to a study done by Emerson.

Barriers for Women in STEM


Because people often associate STEM jobs with men, one reason that women remain underrepresented is stereotypes. Research from American Association of University Women (AAUW) points out that while many people say that they do not believe that boys and men are superior in math and science, they can still hold that belief unconsciously. Even if obvious gender biases are waning, research shows that unconscious biases do impact people’s thoughts and actions. Because it often goes unnoticed and therefore unchallenged, this unconscious bias is a powerful obstacle.


Since Marie Curie in 1903, only seventeen women had won a Nobel Prize in physics, chemistry or medicine compared to 572 men as of 2017. The imbalance hasn’t improved much in the past two years. All 2019 Noble Prize winners in science categories were men.

Although there are female role models such as Meredith Westafer, Sylvia Acevedo, and Gwynne Shotwell, more representation and diversity are needed in industry leadership roles to inspire youth and combat stereotypes.

Solutions to Get More Women in STEM

What can be done to help address underrepresentation in STEM fields? A few solutions include:

  • Being aware of biases and trying to correct them
  • Actively recruiting young women into STEM fields of study
  • Helping women build relationships with colleagues in order to grow their careers
  • Assigning mentors—especially to young professionals—in your organization
  • Investing in leadership development classes and tools

Train Your Team to be Leaders

What does your company do to provide your next generation of leaders with the necessary skill sets? We know that if employees feel empowered, they perform better and eventually may take on leadership roles within their companies. Register for “Building Engineering Leaders in the 21st Century”, a complimentary IEEE webinar, to learn how to bridge the gap between business and engineering.

Date: 24 October 2019

Time: 12pm ET

Duration: 1 Hour





Statistics. National Girls Collaborative Project.

Hill, Catherine. Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. AAUW.

2017. UNESCO Education Center. Cracking the code: Girls’ and women’s education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). UNESCO.

Bort, Julie; Sandler, Rachel. (21 June 2018). The 39 most powerful female engineers of 2018. Business Insider.

(19 August 2019). Growing Interest in STEM but Women Left Behind. Industry Week.

Miller, Kaitlyn. (27 August 2019). How to Attract, Develop and Retain Women in IT. MS Magazine

Dalli, Kristen. (9 September 2019). Women still struggle for representation in STEM jobs, study finds. Consumer Affairs.

Jethanandani, Natasha (12 October 2019). Women In STEM: Breaking Barriers. Business World.

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