The Gender Pay Gap in STEM Fields
As calendars flip to 2020 many aspects of our world have seen change from previous years. One such change that has been eagerly awaited around the world however, remains yet to be seen–at least in the capacity many of us hoped to see. One such area of lagging progress is in the female representation within career sectors of high compensation and high contribution to society. One of the most prominent career paths with these characteristics in mind is that of STEM professions where sadly women are woefully underrepresented.
Why is this such a problem? Beyond the implicit indications of gender inequality there is also an argument to be made for the economy paying the price in terms of lost potential. Make no mistake there are countless brilliant women, whose minds could have made a contribution to STEM industries–and it only takes one revolutionary idea to instigate a revolution. Thus the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields is not only a problem of ethics, but it is a very real limitation placed on the potential of the American economy in the form of opportunity cost.
Gender Inequality in STEM Is a Global Issue
What makes this topic even more interesting is that it is not a cultural problem limited to America. The gender divide in STEM fields can be found across the globe. Research outlined in the European journal Chemistry describes the persisting problem of gender pay gaps, particularly in the area of STEM careers outlook for women. In Europe the divide is even greater than it is in the United States with research showing women’s earnings to be 17.5% less than men’s earnings when all industries are taken into account.
The research paints a picture that is of a systemic nature in academic careers worldwide. The issue is that women who do work in areas of STEM are often placed in positions of teaching, writing, or mentoring, which while reportedly rewarding also entails less reputation gains in terms of professional advancement. One question posed by researchers is, “why haven’t women been more likely to complain or be vocal about this disproportionate advancement ?” The answer they have formulated cites the rewarding nature of the teaching, writing, and mentoring positions. The idea is that either they are more likely to enjoy those types of positions, or at least find them rewarding enough to resist vocal opposition.
Furthermore there seems to be less upward mobility in career tracks based on teaching and mentoring experience, which is thought to be correlated with the dominance of male-heavy boards and trust groups at the helm of industry companies. In other words, it is often times those at the top who facilitate the advancement of adjacent professionals in the industry, and if those at the top are mostly men it suggests a self-contained cycle of bias. It is important to mention, however, that there might be other factors to explore and define in understanding this cycle, since industry leaders will be highly resistant to self-admonishment.
A Bleak Picture in America
Unfortunately the reality in America–while not severe in comparison to Europe’s gender divide–is not much better. Experts look to Silicon Valley to better understand this dynamic. Few would argue against the claim that Silicon Valley is the beating heart of the tech industry. Thus researchers from the University of California have explored gender participation in STEM fields in Silicon Valley to extrapolate trends which might only be demonstrable in such a ‘high-traffic’ area.
According to their findings, the median salary of workers with a STEM bachelor’s degree was approximately $90,000 for men and $56,000 for women (Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies, 2015). Researchers found that while there is still a great deal of unexplained variables in determining this pay divide, there are some biographical factors which they identified as exerting negative force on the professional outlook of women pursuing STEM careers.
The Hint of a Solution
While more research on the subject is certainly required, there does seem to be a picture forming from which we can determine how to develop a solution. That is, research does seem to indicate that females with STEM degrees tend to make different choices about which jobs they pursue, what they major in, etc. It would be a titanic undertaking to determine the motivation for these differing choices, however, we can use them as a hint to understanding the solution.
In clearer terms, one such solution may be facilitating better decision making in females with STEM degrees. It is unfair to ask these females for such compensation to account for an unfair system, but it may help them reach their potential while we wait for the system to equalize. The best example of how to put this into action is to guide female STEM graduates towards the most promising professions, whose markets are so bountiful that even disproportionate opportunity won’t hinder talented women.
Metrology and the Key to Opportunity
According to research conducted by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), of all the industry leaders, 75% stated that metrology was a crucial part of their company. What is metrology and why is it relevant to this conversation? Despite a steryl name, the field of metrology has a rich and storied history. The name metrology originates from ancient Greek, and the practice of metrology is responsible for the greatest wonders of the world such as the even more ancient Egyptian pyramids.
Today metrology refers to the field of science that focuses on the study of measurement–that is, what is measured, how it’s measured, and the accuracy of such measurements. This places it at the core of pretty much every transaction-based market on the planet. If you consider an enterprise like Amazon which is responsible for billions of order fulfillments every year, there is a tremendous amount of accuracy required for an organization to operate on that scale.
Inventory must be shipped, counted, and monitored as it is flown across the world. Currency and unit of measurement conversions must be pinpoint precise. And if you consider an industry where the product is food, suddenly you must incorporate variables like temperature control, quality tracking, and consumer feedback. Any of these things by themselves is a task, but when you scale them together to the size of an international company you quickly find the responsibility is too great for human hands.
A Bright Future for Women in Metrology
Metrology is thus the backbone of both technological advancement in companies and advancement in sciences alike. Thus experts suggest that metrology represents a unique chance for women to open up career pathways that might lead to corporate success or science-based advancement such as through the field of climate science and sustainable energy.
What makes it such a strong return on investment for women however is the sheer universality of the profession. You can find the influence of metrology software in pretty much any industry from shipping and freight, to transaction based markets, to big data and software development. This is the big ticket payoff. Women interested in the tenants of metrology should certainly explore these highly promising metrology markets.
- Inventory Management Metrology Software – Companies like Moxpage develop such software to facilitate global operations that rely on the accuracy of millions or even billions of item-based exchanges. Such software is customizable to offer scalability to smaller operations as well, making this a great focus for any professional looking to work with local companies.
- Calibration Technology – As new types of tech are developed daily, we are seeing all new kinds of sensors, trackers, and all manor or monitoring devices respectively. In many cases, these instruments require precise calibration either in manufacturing or upkeep, making it a career market with some of the most explosive growth in the American economy.
- Laboratory Management – This area of metrology is focused on the accuracy, efficiency, and reliability of all operations within a laboratory environment. Seeing as how the holy grail of any laboratory is accurate measurement, the metrologist reigns supreme. This career path allows metrologists to employ personnel managerial skills alongside enterprise-level management.
- Mobile Applications and Software Development – For any female interested in the entrepreneurial side of metrology, this angle is the best bet as it provides many different routes of entry into countless markets. All of these aforementioned metrology markets will depend on metrology software in one form or another. By specializing in metrology software development you will be uniquely positioned to penetrate the area of the market that is most conducive to personal interests or passions.