Why Do So Few Women Work in STEM?

The demand for people who are educated and capable of working in STEM fields is growing. The need for talented employees knowledgeable in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics is clear. The industry figures indicate that in Canada during 2017, while the employment market grew 1.8% in totality, STEM jobs grew by almost 5%. This clearly shows the demand and need for trained people, especially women, in this fascinating field.

In this article, we discuss why too few women study STEM and work in this expanding field.

Job Growth Was Previously Unclear

Whilst it wasn't always clear that there was a place for women within STEM or that it was a growing opportunity for everyone, it certainly is now. There are so many fields to go into under this broad acronym that it is worth listing a few here to make things clearer.

Here are just a few of the possible professions under STEM:

  • Doctors and surgeons
  • Meteorologists
  • Software and hardware developers
  • Technicians
  • Nurses
  • Chemists
  • Engineers

As you can see, the professions listed are clearly in demand, and most are growing in this regard. Click this link from Wilfrid Laurier University to understand better which jobs are expanding and the ones that may interest you.

They May Never Have Considered a STEM Career Before

Many of the more technical roles as outlined in the previous section are not ones that women in the past have jumped at the chance to work in. Certainly, there have been inroads into working amongst technical staff, such as Social Media Managers with some degree of technical expertise, but the more demanding developer or computer engineering roles haven't been filled at the same pace.

It's true that this needs to change. Considering that women are commonly now graduating with degrees more often than men, they are more than capable! But we as women must believe in ourselves more when it comes to technical positions and not leave it to the boys. That's the bottom line.

Whilst working in positions like a Social Media Manager is a good thing, it doesn't require a Computer Science degree to do so because it's not very high-tech. Instead, it requires a familiarity with using social media deftly and the finer points of brand management to avoid snafus. However, for women who want to get into better-paid STEM positions, a related degree is really required to get a foot in the door.

Not Noticing the Demographical Trend

Not only is it true that STEM jobs are growing with many new job openings compared to other professions, but something else is happening too - a demographical shift.

When looking at the medical field, whether advanced fields like biomedical engineer or more traditional healthcare fields such as medical doctors and nursing staff, there's a problem with boomers. They're reaching an age where they need medical care to a greater degree, and more often too.

Unfortunately, too few people have been studying STEM in general - not just women. As a result, there's a shortage of people to work in these fields. It's most noticeable in healthcare with hospitals, especially smaller or regional ones, struggling to recruit the staff they need. This represents an opportunity for improved job security and rising wages now and in the future.

Too Few Role Models Available

There haven't been many role models for women to see in the STEM fields; there are not enough female doctors to inspire women to try for the same position through a course of study; too few female programmers, chemists, biochemists, or CEOs in a technical company to encourage women to go for it. As a result, in some countries, the number of women entering STEM has been declining, not increasing, which is very sad.

Thankfully, now we're beginning to see more women giving speeches at industry conferences and penning books. Because of this, interest in STEM among women is seeing a resurgence. In the push for higher remuneration, technical fields often pay some of the highest salaries, which has not gone unnoticed, and rightly so.

Missing That Retirement Represents New Opportunity

Many of the people who worked in computer engineering and other fields over the past 20-30 years are reaching their own retirement age. They're moving out of the STEM workforce and will eventually become one of the patients at a hospital in need of staff. It's a curious situation.

However, for anyone interested in a technical profession, they're finding that boomers' retirement means there are jobs to fill even if the field isn't growing directly. This continues to happen as a greater percentage of the boomer generation quit work. Also, early retirees (engineering is the top profession for people who have retired early due to the salary which often tops six-figures) is seeing the herd thin out too.

Fear of a Lack of Acceptance

It used to be the case that this was a valid cause for concern. Nevertheless, this is far less of a problem now for capable women who have a solid resume.

There are now plenty of employment laws to ensure a fairer working environment. Companies wish to have a balanced workforce with a good mix of women and men in all departments to avoid looking like they have a bias one way or the other. This is excellent news for anyone looking to get into more interesting technical fields that they feared were previously barred.

Not Being Optimistic That Things Will Change

It's unfortunate that there is still a bit of a stigma when it comes to STEM topics being male-oriented. This must stop. The best way to do so is to study for the field to become qualified to work within it. It won't change otherwise, because someone unqualified isn't appropriate to work in technical areas unless they can do the job. So, the more women who study for STEM, the greater the opportunity for professional growth in this area. Be optimistic!

While companies are eager to employ women in STEM positions, they need enough valid applicants to do so. Therefore, it's up to women to accept that challenge by studying to work in STEM first, and then there's a world of job openings available to them for some of the reasons outlined in this article. Fortunately, it's clearer than ever that the jobs are there for the taking, which should provide additional encouragement to try.

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.


When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.


Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.


If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.