Three Reasons the Wage Gap Hurts Women in STEM
An AAUW analysis of 2011 U.S. Census Bureau data shows that in many science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs — as in most other fields — women continue to be paid less than men. Here are three particularly depressing findings from that analysis.
1. Women who work in high-paying STEM fields still take home less than their male peers.
Earnings are high for both women and men who work as computer and information systems managers. But while median earnings for men in 2011 were just over $98,000, median earnings for women were around $86,000. Likewise, aerospace engineers tend to earn a good living. But while a typical male aerospace engineer took home just over $100,000 in 2011, his female counterpart was paid $83,000.
2. Even at the lower-earning end of the STEM spectrum, the pay gap is just as evident.
Median earnings for male engineering technicians in 2011 were just over $56,000 compared with median earnings of $43,000 for female engineering technicians. Among drafters, typical earnings for men were just over $51,000 while typical earnings for women were just over $45,000.
3. The wage gap may hurt efforts to recruit women into STEM.
It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in STEM fields. In electrical and mechanical engineering, for example, women still make up less than 10 percent of the workforce. When women are absent from these fields, we all lose out because women’s ideas and experiences aren’t contributing to innovation potential. But when women are present in these fields, often they are not compensated at the same level as their male colleagues — a factor that certainly doesn’t help recruit more women to STEM.
There’s plenty we can do to help close the gender pay gap. Join the fight for fair pay in STEM and all fields.