Men more likely to apply for IT, Engineering Jobs
By Kate Hawley
It's no secret that IT and engineering are predominantly male -- government agencies, academics and industry watchers have long observed that women are a small minority in these fields. Now a large-scale survey of job seekers shows that men account for the vast majority of job applicants in these industries, too.
More than 2.7 million job seekers responded to the survey, conducted by CareerBuilder.com from January 2009 through September 2011. Of the respondents, 45,941 people applied for IT jobs, and 64,392 applied for jobs in engineering.
Among IT applicants, 21 percent were women and 79 percent were men. Of engineering applicants, 20 percent were women and 80 percent were men. Those numbers are especially striking when compared against the larger pool of job applicants, which spanned numerous occupations. Of that group, 48 percent were women and 52 percent were men.
Those statistics mirror federal government data on the number of women in scientific and technical fields. A report from the U.S. Department of Commerce out in August this year found that, in 2009, women filled 24 percent of jobs in computer science and math, and a mere 14 percent of jobs in engineering -- that's despite holding 48 percent of all jobs in the U.S. economy.
No exact parallels can be drawn between the survey data and the federal report, which used different sample sizes and methodologies. But it's worth noting that women are significantly underrepresented among both job applicants and workers in IT and engineering.
The reasons for this stark gender disparity have been much debated. Witness the 2005 controversy sparked by then-Harvard University president Lawrence Summers, who said at an academic conference that women may be less likely to succeed in science and math careers because of innate gender differences. The remarks eventually led to his resignation after a no-confidence vote by Harvard's faculty.
By contrast, the Commerce Department report theorized that the lack of women in these fields may have to do with entrenched gender stereotypes, combined with workplace policies less accommodating to women with families.
Whatever the reasons, the dearth of women in IT and engineering means that they are losing out on opportunities to join fast-growing occupations that bring in substantial paychecks. Salaries tend to be high across the spectrum of professions and specializations within IT and engineering. For example, the U.S. average salary for a mechanical engineer is $88,987, according to CBSalary.com. For IT managers, the average salary is $106,068.
Many groups are working to shrink the gender gap. For example, organizations like the National Center for Women & Information Technology, the Society of Women Engineers and the IEEE Women in Engineering, a branch of the Institute of Electric and Electronics Engineers, work to make the fields more inclusive through training, scholarships and networking opportunities.
And some evidence shows that stepping up efforts to include women in these fields can be successful. For just one example, the female population of Carnegie Mellon University's computer science department rose to 42 percent in 2000 from 8 percent in 1995, thanks to a program designed to attract more female students.
Copyright 2012 Sologig