Utah women hold only 23.5% of STEM sector jobs vs. 28.8% for women nationally. Utah is ranked 51 in the nation.
Employment opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) sectors in Utah are estimated to reach 101,000 by 2018. These jobs are recognized nationwide as being well compensated and generally recession proof. Yet Utah women continue to hold a lower percentage of STEM sector jobs than women nationally; in fact, Utah is ranked last in the U.S. in terms of the percent of women employed in STEM. In addition, Utah women work in STEM occupations at a rate that is less than half that of Utah men.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that, between 2010 and 2020, total employment in science and engineering will increase at a higher rate than all other occupations: 18.7% vs. 14.3%.3
While Utah currently boasts a 3.7% unemployment rate (6th-lowest in the U.S.), STEM occupations account for only 4.56% of Utah’s workforce, slightly below the 4.58% national average.
Recently, Utah has improved its national ranking for individuals in science and engineering occupations as a percentage of all occupations: from 19th in 2013 to 13th in 2014.5 Yet, Utah women are not necessarily part of this growth, as they lag behind men in STEM participation.
Possible Explanations for the Gender Gap
The U.S. Department of Commerce recognizes STEM education as the clear pathway to STEM sector jobs, yet educational statistics demonstrate an inadequate supply of talent in the STEM jobs pipeline among workers both in Utah and nationwide. In 2012–2013, 16.6% of bachelor’s degrees conferred by Utah’s post-secondary institutions were in STEM disciplines, a sliver above the national average of 16.5%. Overall, STEM career progression is frequently referred to as a “leaky pipeline” because of a diminishing interest in science and math as students move through the educational system. However, the decline is particularly true of female students, as gender stereotypes and a scarcity of female STEM role models continue to affect decisions made by girls and women in regards to their education and future career.
Efforts to Increase Participation
In order to ensure the sufficient local supply of qualified employees to fill future STEM jobs, Utah stakeholders are focusing increased efforts in promoting STEM fields (and specifically women in STEM) at all levels, including K–12, higher education, and professional employment. Overall, Utah is taking positive steps and investing heavily in raising support and awareness for STEM education as a gateway to high-paying job opportunities, and many of these efforts are aimed specifically at overcoming STEM–gender challenges.
Read the full Snapshot Utah Women and STEM