The Gap Between Women and Men in STEM and What You Can Do About It [INFOGRAPHIC]

July 27, 2016

When Google released its workplace diversity report in 2014, this was an eye-opening moment for many (and I am sure a “doh” one for the women in this industry).

The tech giant revealed that for technical roles, the gender split was 83% men and 17% women (as of 2016, the split is 81% to 19%). Numerous other companies, including LinkedIn, followed in Google’s footsteps and released their own diversity data, pledging to close the startling STEM gender gap.

To understand how big the gender gap really is, we surveyed over 8,000 professionals in STEM about their careers and job seeking habits. We also looked at the LinkedIn profiles of millions of women skilled in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math and analyzed their career paths. Here is what we found:

  • women in STEM

Women make up less than a quarter of STEM professionals

According to LinkedIn data, women only make up 23% of STEM talent worldwide in 2016. But, according to Liz Morgan, LinkedIn recruiting lead for engineering leadership and diversity, this isn't surprising.

“Tech companies know that having women engineers improves their products," she says. "This way they will build products and services that speak to a wider base of their customers. The challenge is the tiny talent pool of women in STEM. And there’s not a consistent pool across engineering areas either. For example, women in STEM tend to gravitate toward user interface and front end development roles, which makes it much more challenging to recruit women with a distributed systems or infrastructure background.”

On top of that, “competition for talent has gotten a lot more fierce, especially in diversity recruiting,” says Tito Magobet, global director of talent acquisition for LinkedIn’s technology and product areas. Tito has been in tech recruiting for 17 years and put together Google’s first diversity recruiting initiative, in addition to doing diversity recruiting for IBM and Microsoft. “Recruiting women in STEM is 2X and 3X the competition in terms of supply and demand.”

Women are underrepresented at every seniority level and are more likely to leave

Our data shows that the proportion of women in STEM drops the higher they go in seniority. For example, for entry-level talent, women make up 24% of STEM professionals. By the time women climb to the director-level, they represent only 17% of STEM professionals.

Also, women are more likely than men to want to leave their current job within the next year. Over one quarter of women in STEM see themselves at their company for 1 year or less.

Employers have noticed and started to act. “Over the past 2 years, tech companies have become more astute about this problem,” says Tito. “They’ve published their diversity numbers. And there has been more transparency, focus, introspection, and energy put into diversity recruiting and retention.”

Women are more likely to quit because of the company culture and their boss

The number one reason both men and women in STEM leave their job is the same — 44% of women and 43% of men are looking for better career advancement opportunities. However, women in STEM are more likely than men to leave because they weren’t happy with the work culture. One in 3 women cited the work environment as a major reason they left, compared to 1 one in 4 men.

The reasons that trigger women to look for a new job tend to relate to the quality of their day-to-day work experience. Compared to men, more women in STEM face challenges related to their boss (25% of women vs 21% of men) and having a frustrating day at work (19% of women vs 13% of men).

When they land a new job, women in STEM get smaller salary bumps

Our survey revealed that women in STEM tend to get smaller pay increases as they start a new role. Women are more likely to get a 10% increase, while men are more likely to get a 30% increase.

“Overall, women still make $0.78 for every $1 men make. Yet there is no single explanation for why the pay gap exists,” says Liz. “Women may not be as forward in negotiating their salary or explaining what their worth is and how that translates to their responsibilities.”

“Typically only 1 out of every 5 women recruited into STEM roles negotiates,” says Liz. “On the other hand, 5 out of 5 men in STEM will take two weeks to finagle over every last detail.”

When asked what recruiters could do about the pay gap, Liz responded, “When extending offers, ensure that the women are receiving the same compensation as their male counterparts. You can’t make your candidate negotiate. But you can have a conversation with your hiring managers and HR business partners to ensure there is gender pay equality.”

What you and your company can do to help close the gender gap

1. Build the business case, and train your recruiting team on recruiting STEM women

The first step is figuring out how to prioritize recruiting more women for STEM roles. “There’s already a business case for diversity,” according to Tito. “Companies that have diverse talent will build more innovate products and services, get more market share, and have more revenue.”

Build your internal messages on why women in tech is important in order to get the buy-in and resources you need and decide how you will partner with TA and get everyone on board.

The second step is creating goals and success metrics around recruiting women in STEM. For example, Liz says “My goal is to increase the number of women in STEM who come for on-site interviews.”

And the final step is to build a robust pipeline of women for technical roles by creating a comprehensive recruiting strategy. Liz suggests building out each of these five areas: 1) Diversity recruiting training, 2) Employer branding that focuses on women, 3) An internal community of women in STEM focused on career development and recruiting, 4) Strategic partnerships outside of recruiting that can help you sell and close candidates, and 5) An interview process that feels inclusive and diverse.

“These five components need to work together,” Liz advises. “If you don’t have each of these, it will be an uphill battle.”

2. Highlight the human side of your company in all your branding and job descriptions

When we asked what aspects of a company they’d want to know about to help them decide whether to work somewhere, women in STEM revealed that they cared more about the human side of a company than men did. Women want to know about the culture and employee perspectives.

To make sure you highlight these aspects of your company, Tito recommends that someone “go through all your employer branding pictures, words, and job descriptions with diversity and inclusion in mind. You need materials that speak directly to women. Limit your use of phrases that may alienate women. For example, don’t say you want people who will 'crush it,' or people 'who love playing video games and killing things.' And make sure your pictures reflect diversity.”

3. Look to your employees to attract women in STEM

According to Tito, the very best channel for recruiting women in STEM is employee referrals. "I spend a lot of time using LinkedIn data to understand first degree connections and leveraging them in the subject lines of my InMails," he says. "Personalize the subject lines with the common connection to get someone to look. Using connections doubles and triples your response rates.”

“Inside the InMail, I’d recommend sharing positive things their colleagues have said about them. The candidate will feel flattered and want to learn more. If you can get one of their connections to send an InMail to the candidate, even better. This can result in a 60%+ InMail response rate.”

Liz’s advice on partnering with employees: “Gather a group of women in engineering who are ready to sell or close female candidates. These are your champions to help you bridge the gap for candidates who are unsure about the company.”

4. Show women how their work fits into a greater purpose

When we asked what motivates them at work, women in STEM revealed they were more motivated by purpose. Compared to men, they were also less motivated by money or status.

Liz’s experience confirms this: “Women in STEM tend to gravitate toward technical projects that directly impact the consumer. It’s not that women don’t like super technical stuff. They just want to work on projects that achieve societal good.”

To dive into more details about the latest job seeker trends around the world, download our 2016 Talent Trends report.

Big thanks to the LinkedIn researchers who made this post possible: Allison Schnidman, Sabrina Fruehauf, Akansha Agrawal, and Lorraine Hester.

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