The Missing Women in Science, Math, Engineering, and Behavioral Science Jobs? Accounting for Gender Differences in Entrance into SMEB Occupations

Sharon Sassler, Cornell University
Yael Levitte, Cornell University
Jennifer Glass, University of Iowa
Katherine Michelmore, Cornell University

Despite the investment of considerable money to increase women’s representation in undergraduate science and engineering education, gender imbalance in the science workplace remains. Women are now more likely than men to obtain a college degree, and in science, math, engineering and behavioral science (SMEB)-related fields of study, women’s graduation rates since the 1970s have increased between two to ten times (Bell, 2010). Despite these educational gains, women’s representation in the SMEB workforce remains low. As of 2003, women were only 27% of the SMEB workforce (National Science Board, 2008). In this paper, we examine the factors associated with entering into SMEB occupations and how this differs by gender. We assess whether differences in attitudes towards gender and family roles account for gender disparities in the likelihood of entering into SMEB occupations among young adults who received college degrees and majored in SMEB fields.

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Presented in Session 120: Gender Inequality in Educational and Labor Force Outcomes