More women are entering programs at California universities focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. In some places, women in some STEM specialties may even outnumber men. These numbers are changing at the undergraduate level after growing recognition of a serious problem with gender bias and exclusion in STEM, not only at the academic level but also in industry. However, while more women undergraduates are studying STEM and achieving high marks, this does not necessarily translate to a greater number of women in full-time STEM careers or pursuing a graduate role in academia.
In many cases, women may successfully graduate from a STEM program only to leave their career for another before too many years. In other cases, women may decide not to move on to higher education in STEM subjects, even if they show a great deal of skill and talent in their areas of work. Many women in STEM say that they face systematic barriers and gender discrimination in both academia and industry, a problem that is not countered simply by recruiting more undergraduate women to study STEM. This problem is particularly significant for women of color, who note experiences with racial discrimination as well.
The gender imbalance is highly apparent at the faculty level, where only 1.6% of engineering professors are Black or Hispanic women. While there are a number of theories about why women leave academic STEM fields, researchers noted that even in introductory classes, the majority of women had experienced gender bias, with over three-quarters subjected to sexual harassment.
Of course, discrimination is not only found in academia; workplace discrimination can be particularly profound in industry, where women may lose out on thousands of dollars in salaries as a result. An employment law attorney may work with victims of discrimination to pursue compensation for their damages.