How to Hire More Women in STEM

As National Geographic once explained, women make up half the national workforce, earn more college and graduate degrees than men, and by some estimates represent the largest single economic force in the world. Yet the gender gap in fields like science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) fields is still staggering.

A survey conducted by L’Oréal last year showed that while career opportunities for woman in STEMM fields are rising, 91% percent of women in the field admitted that gender discrimination remains a career obstacle and a shocking 100% of respondents in the survey agreed that self-doubt and a lack of confidence stand in their way. Furthermore, some 88% of respondents shared that gender bias serves as an obstacle to women’s career trajectories, specifically in the postdoctoral stage.

And now, a new report from the US National Academies has given guidance to how universities and employers can hire more women. It states that the recruitment and retention of women in STEMM programs and careers can be improved if university admissions officers, human resources staff and hiring committees expand the networks from which candidates are drawn. They also urge the development of guidance for academia on how to write job ads and conduct interviews inclusively, as well as strategies to lessen bias in university hiring and promotion decisions.

How To Hire More Women: According to Chemistry World Magazine, the National Academies recommend the following ways to ensure the representation of women in STEMM fields from academia as well as government science agencies:

  •  It argues that agencies like the NSF and National Institutes of Health should hold research institutions accountable by carrying out regular data collection activities, and monitoring progress via ‘equity audits’.
  • The report’s authors also advise that funding agencies consider the efforts of institutions and individual researchers to support greater equity, diversity and inclusion as part of their proposal compliance, review and award process.

Why This Matters: The perspectives of women are critical for the advancement of science and medicine. Male bias is dangerous for women’s health, affects how spacesuits and rockets are designed, and even skews how specimens in science museums are curated. If we’re going to tell girls that they can be “anything they want to be when they grow up” then we have to ensure that our society and institutions are capable of accommodating those dreams.

Read This: Our hero of the week last week was the late NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, read Mae Jemison’s (the first African-American woman in space) New York Times op-ed about what Katherine’s life and legacy means to her.

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