Dec 5, 2023 - Business

STEM gender gap shows no signs of closing with Gen Z

Share of Gen Zers who said they were very or somewhat interested in STEM careers
Data: Gallup; Chart: Axios Visuals

The gender disparity in pursuing STEM careers persists among young people ranging from tweens to recent grads, new data shows.

Why it matters: Like their older counterparts, girls aren't warming to STEM, as diversity in the field is critical for representative and responsible advancements — and despite efforts designed to boost their participation.

  • More 12- to 26-year-old boys and men were interested in pursuing STEM careers than girls and women, who expressed a high lack of confidence in their abilities, per Gallup-Walton Family Foundation Survey data released Tuesday.
  • "Despite much investment in STEM education — including in initiatives to reduce disparities in STEM participation by gender — significant gender gaps persist," the report said.

By the numbers: 57% of female respondents said they don't think they would be good at a STEM career, versus 38% of males.

  • In a smaller gap, 61% of female Gen Z members said they don't enjoy the subjects, compared to 58% of males.

Zoom in: 85% of males said they were interested in at least one STEM field, compared to 63% of females.

  • Computer and technology: 62% of males interested, 34% of females interested
  • Engineering: 52% of males interested, 24% of females interested
  • Math: 33% of males interested, 23% of females interested
  • Life or physical science: 31% of males interested, 33% of females interested

All students were equally likely to say their schools supported STEM development, per Gallup.

  • A stark pay gap also affects women who pursue STEM fields, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center report.

Zoom out: The lack of diversity in industries that represent so much of the workforce limits the potential of advancement in STEM fields, a report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said.

  • "Closing the gender gap will not only bolster sustainable tech-enabled growth and innovation but is also deemed an economic necessity," the report said.
  • Stereotypes, lack of role models, unconscious bias and work-life imbalance have been attributed for the lack of gender diversity.

Methodology: 2,006 respondents ages 12 and 26 responded to a web survey, conducted by Gallup and the Walton Family Foundation, between Sept. 11-19.

Go deeper: Austin STEM exercise aims to encourage girl gamers

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