Surveys Show Sex Discrimination Remains a Major Problem for Women

Sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination are everyday issues for women in all New York workplaces. Women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) face special challenges, due largely to the incorrect perception they are less capable than men in these subjects. Two recent studies shed light on these subject and help illustrate the depth of the problem.

Focusing on Women in STEM

The Pew Research Center recently published the findings of a national survey on women and STEM jobs. The study focused on three groups: women who worked in STEM settings where they were outnumbered by men, women who worked in computer jobs, and women who held postgraduate degrees in STEM subjects. For each group, Pew said a “majority” of the women surveyed had “experienced gender discrimination at work.”

Overall, while women hold roughly 50% of STEM-related jobs, their actual representation varies widely by occupation. For instance, Pew found that women only hold about 14% of engineering jobs. In sharp contrast, they hold 75% of health-related STEM jobs. In some engineering classifications, such as mechanical engineers, women hold less than 10% of the available jobs. Pew further noted that “Blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in STEM occupations relative to their share in the U.S. workforce.”

As for the women who do work in STEM fields, about 50% report experiencing some type of gender discrimination at work. (This is slightly higher than the non-STEM average of 41%.) Broken down into more specific discriminatory acts, 29% of women said they earned less than men who performed “the same job” as them. Similarly, 29% said they were “treated as if they were not competent.”

Such discriminatory attitudes were even more prevalent in “majority-male workplaces,” where more than three out of every four respondents said they experienced workplace discrimination. Roughly half of these women said their gender “has made it harder to succeed in their job,” and 48% identified sexual harassment as a “problem in their workplace.”

Lack of Women in the “Corporate Pipeline”

According to a separate “Women in the Workplace” study published by the international consulting firm McKinsey & Company, women “remain significantly underrepresented in the corporate pipeline” despite representing 57% of “recent college graduates.” McKinsey's study surveyed a broad range of industries and found women were at a disadvantage in most. For instance, in automotive and industrial manufacturing, women only constituted 26 % of entry-level corporate hires.

Contrary to popular myths, the McKinsey study found that women do not leave their jobs in higher numbers than men “and very few plan to leave the workforce to focus on family.” to the contrary, only about 2% of women cite family as grounds for leaving a job versus 72% who leave to take a job with another company. McKinsey said these figures almost perfectly match the responses given by men. Yet women are still “promoted at a lower rate than men” and male employees continue to advance within most companies at a disproportionate rate.

Have You Been a Victim of Sex Discrimination?

As these studies illustrate, we have a long way to go in addressing and eliminating sex discrimination in the workplace. If you have been the target of sexual harassment or unfair treatment based on your gender, you need to speak with a qualified New York employment attorney as soon as possible. Call the Law Offices of Mahir S. Nisar at 676.760.6493 to speak with someone today.


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