A culture that is unwelcoming to women is a key reason women are under-represented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, according to new research from Catalyst, the nonprofit organization with a mission to expand opportunities for women and business.
“STEM companies face a serious talent drain as women take their skills elsewhere, but these organizations also have a remarkable opportunity to turn things around by focusing on how they can make all their talent—men and women alike—feel equally valued,” said Catalyst President-CEO Deborah Gillis on releasing its report, “High Potentials in Tech-Intensive Industries: The Gender Divide in Business Roles.”
Among the report’s findings:
- Women are less likely to enter tech-intensive fields and more likely to leave once they join.
- Women are outsiders and on an unequal foot from the start. For example, women with the same education as male colleagues are more likely to begin in entry-level positions (55% of women; 39% of men).
- Lack of role models and vague evaluation criteria are serious barriers.
- Addressing those barriers can help STEM businesses change their culture.
Catalyst suggests five actions that can help reverse the drain of talented women from STEM industries:
- Start men and women at equal pay levels.
- Evaluate company culture for tolerance of hostile behavior toward women. Consider how to ensure women feel valued and included.
- Recruit senior male executives to serve as sponsors for promising young women.
- Make performance evaluation standards clear.
- Provide a flexible work environment.
Some of the most important data is summarized in the attached infographic.
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