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Department of Commerce Report Shows 'Need to Encourage and Support Women in STEM'

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While women continue to make less money than their male counterparts, on average, across all disciplines, a new US Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration report says that "the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs." Using regression analyses to control for factors such as an employees' age, educational attainment, and region of residence from US Census Bureau data, researchers at the Department of Commerce found that "for every dollar earned by a man in STEM [jobs], a women earns 14 cents — or 14 percent — less," though that gap is comparatively smaller than the 21 percent pay disparity that exists between men and women employed in non-STEM occupations. "On average, men and women earn $36.34 and $31.11 an hour, respectively, in STEM jobs — higher than the $24.47 than mean earn and $19.26 that women earn, on average, in other occupations," the researchers write.

The report also examines other aspects of women's attainment of STEM degrees and employment in STEM fields. The Department of Commerce researchers found that, when compared with the total number awarded, "women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering." Further, the researchers found that female workers with STEM degrees "are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation." Rather, they are more likely to work in education or health care than male employees with STEM degrees. "Nearly one in five STEM college-educated women works in healthcare occupations, compared with about one in 10 men," the authors write. "Likewise, approximately 14 percent of female STEM majors end up in education occupations, compared with approximately 6 percent of men."

Overall, the Department of Commerce team says its report presents "definitive evidence of a need to encourage and support women in STEM with a goal of gender parity." The full report is available for download here.

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