Posted by: Gregory Linton | 08/04/2011

Fretting Over the Gender Gap in STEM–But Where are the Men Also?

Economics and Statistics Administration, “Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation”.

This report from the US Department of Commerce focuses on the discrepancy between the numbers of men and women in the STEM fields. They note that women hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. Here is the concern they raise about this: “Women are vastly underrepresented in STEM jobs and among STEM degree holders despite making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and half of the college-educated workforce. That leaves an untapped opportunity to expand STEM employment in the United States, even as there is wide agreement that the nation must do more to improve its competitiveness.”

What this report fails to recognize is that men are also vastly underrepresented in STEM fields. The US is producing far fewer STEM graduates, both men and women, than are needed to fill the high-skilled jobs that will keep our economy thriving. Yes, recruiting more women into STEM would help fill this need but so would recruiting more men into these fields. We just need educated people, regardless of gender, to meet the needs of high-tech employers. Men seem more drawn to these fields, although the explanations are controversial. Therefore, getting more men to go to college and stay in college is one way to fill this need, but you will never see such a recommendation in a government publication.

Will we ever see from the US Department of Commerce a report that laments the fact that 2.5 million more women attend college than men? Will such a report describe the disastrous impact on our economy and society that results from not educating our men? Don’t hold your breath. It’s not on their radar screen because politically there is no payoff. This is evident from the false statement made in the Executive Summary that women make up half of the college-educated workforce. They are not aware of their own government statistics that show that, in 2007-2008, 228,000 more women than men received college degrees. They are so ignorant of this issue that they do not even bother to check the accuracy of their statement.

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