How To Recruit More Women For STEM
March 28, 2013

How To Recruit More Women For STEM

Careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) have long gone to men more often than women. STEM companies and jobs have been trying to recruit more women for decades. However, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan found that some women have more options in the job market, thus they do not pursue those STEM careers.

So, which women more often pursue STEM jobs according to the study? Well, women with high math skills but only moderate verbal abilities appear more likely to choose STEM careers. Women with both high math skills and high verbal skills seem to be more likely to choose careers outside of STEM due to their combined skills. Those combined skills mean they have a greater number of career options, and, as redOrbit said, more options, not inability, now explain why the lack of women in STEM jobs.

To determine this, “[t]he researchers examined data from 1,490 college-bound US students drawn from a national longitudinal study. The students were surveyed in 12th grade and again when they were 33 years old. The survey included data on several factors, including participants’ SAT scores, various aspects of their motivational beliefs and values, and their occupations at age 33.”

What they found was that people with high verbal skills often chose jobs other than those in the STEM field. They also found that more women had high verbal skills than men. Those individuals with moderate verbal skills chose STEM jobs more. This study links the debate over the scarcity of women in STEM field jobs and ability versus options.

Obviously, women who excel at both math and verbal skills will have more career options, thus they look to their other options rather than STEM. Or, perhaps, they were never steered toward STEM careers in the first place. Either way, high math and high verbal skills equal more career options.

The study also found that participants with higher math skills often ended up in a STEM job, which may mean that math abilities play a larger role in recruiting individuals to the STEM fields. The research team said that, “educators and policy makers may consider shifting the focus from trying to strengthen girls’ STEM-related abilities to trying to tap the potential of these girls who are equally skilled in both math and verbal domains.”

For so long, the focus has been to help girls improve in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, but this study shows that instead of forcing new skills, focusing on the skills they already possess may lead to better participation.

These findings will naturally provide STEM promoters with a new way to approach recruiting women. Well, it will probably also help with recruiting men, but since STEM has fewer (way fewer) women, these findings will definitely help with improving the amount of women in the STEM field. Though, the number of women in STEM has increased over the past decade, there is still an obvious absence in many areas, and if not an absence, at least a lack of women. This information should help to increase the female voice, ideas, and research in STEM. The more people we have studying the STEM areas, the better improvement we will see. I firmly believe that women and men are necessary for research and problem solving.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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