White House Report: More Women Need to Study STEM

Women make up just one fourth of the STEM workforce.

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Last week, the White House implored more women to seek science, technology, engineering, and math careers in a report that studied the state of women's employment.

The White House Council on Women and Girls found that women who work in STEM fields make about a third more than women in non-STEM jobs. The council wrote that it's "especially disconcerting" that women make up only 25 percent of the STEM workforce, which is expected to grow by nearly 20 percent over the rest of the decade.

"Women are also significantly underrepresented in many fast-growing, high-wage fields such as skilled manufacturing and trades. And while women have seen impressive gains in industries such as finance, they have not reached the top levels of these occupations at the same rates as men," according to the report.

The female shortage is attributed to two factors: Women are studying STEM fields in college at a lower rate than men, and many women who earn STEM degrees go on to work in other fields. The White House says it wants to boost the number of minority women studying STEM and encourage women who earn doctorates in STEM fields to do original research. The council also says women should be more interested in green technology careers.

The wage discrepancies between women and men in STEM careers is also smaller than the gap for non-STEM workers. Women who work in STEM careers typically earn about 14 percent less than male coworkers; in non-STEM fields, that gap is 21 percent.

The Obama administration says that its Race to the Top education incentive program has rewarded states that engage girls in STEM education. According to the administration, closing STEM achievement gaps for girls and minorities was the "sole competitive preference" given to states that applied for the grants.

"Since he first took office, President Obama has made it a high priority to attract and retain girls and women in STEM fields," according to the report.

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