Fewer women study STEM

Despite high demand for workers with technical skills, fewer women are earning certificates and associate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math  at community colleges, concludes a new report. Less than 2 percent of  engineers with four-year degrees are out of work.

Are community colleges doomed to be the Wal-Marts of higher education?


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  1. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Are Walmarts a BAD thing? They provide goods people need to function at a price they can afford. Sure, Walmart isn’t glamorous— and their toothbrush holders aren’t as glamorous as the ones at Target– no expensive Italian designers here, or oos and ahs from guests, BUT—they do what they supposed to do, and they’re accessible in poor and rural areas where Target refuses to open stores….

  2. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Yeah, that was my reaction, too.

    Wal-Mart creates massive amount of wealth through its logistics programs, which were absolutely revolutionary at the time Wal-Mart began, and which have been adopted because they work.

  3. Oh, come on you guys. You know Walmart’s a rallying cry on the left as an emblem of all that’s wrong with capital…uh, free enterprise.

    What if the efficiency and customer-focus of Walmart is applied to higher education? Will the schools that sell “smug” as much or more then they sell education be able to compete? Even asking the question sets a dangerous, and unwelcomed, precedent.

  4. You state that less than 2% of engineers with four degrees are out of work. I’m not doubting this but, what percentage of that 2% are recent graduates? There are many engineers who have recently graduated that are out of work. It is hard to find a job without real work experience, and these students simply don’t have it. I think that is why women (and men) are steering away from STEM.

  5. Savannah,

    Most colleges used to provide serious work and experience opportunities in STEM fields (mind you, this was the early to mid 1980’s I’m talking about), but these days, many students actually graduate without having any practical experience what so ever (which makes it very hard to show an employer they can be hired to do a job).

    I’ve done training of new hires in STEM fields, and in some cases, it can take as long as 6 months to get a person up to speed, with the average being 4 to 8 weeks if they have at least a few years of experience (I have close to 30 years of actual work experience in my field) and that in many cases, if I didn’t know how to do something, I had to do the research and figure it out on my own.

    Women and STEM fields aren’t that attractive, esp. if you’re trying to juggle a family, unless you get to the upper levels in management (CIO, CSO, CEO, or owner), and that takes a very long time to achieve. The average person in IT (programmer, for example is usually reaching the end of their career in that area by the age of 35 or so, and has moved into a different field, or gotten into technical management).

    STEM fields are fraught with long hours, and usually poor wages for the first 3-5 years on the job (my first IT job, I was making a whopping $6.50 an hour as a student worker), but I used the knowledge I gained from that to advance my career.

    Many women shun STEM fields due to the nature of the job, it’s designed to appeal to ‘geeks’ in many cases, who can spend 60 hours a week working on something.

    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      Most of the unemployed STEM guys I know are older (in their 40s and up) and can’t find work because new grads are cheaper. Companies only want the older engineers as consultants and short term contractors—

      Engineering is NOT a miracle field. If you go into it, you’d better have a back-up plan for middle age.

      • J.D. Salinger says:

        Engineering is NOT a miracle field. If you go into it, you’d better have a back-up plan for middle age.

        That could be said for a lot of fields.