According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the proportion of women in STEM fields increased from 8% to 27% between 1970 and 2019. While that's excellent progress, women still make up the minority in these roles, and many barriers remain.
Take female authorship in high-impact scientific journals, for example. Nature recently found that women represented just 15% of senior authors, despite accounting for nearly a third of major grant recipients. Gender disparities, from subtle hiring biases to overt discrimination at work, are at play throughout the STEM ecosystem.
Even so, there's evidence of an inflection point. Programs such as Code Like a Girl are normalizing female involvement in STEM fields for young people, and ongoing investments in corporate equity initiatives and mentorships point to a forward-looking movement that has serious staying power.
So what will it take to build on the 27% rate of representation? We asked two professional females working in STEM organizations to share their experiences and perspectives on achieving gender equality in the workplace for STEM fields: Amanda Linkous, Ph.D., center manager of the NCI Center for Cancer Systems Biology of SCLC at Vanderbilt University; and Lydia Kenton Walsh, vice president of commercial operations at Corning Life Sciences.
Dr. Linkous has spent years in the cancer biology space studying lung and glioblastoma tumors and developing 3D organoids for drug screening. Kenton Walsh, who has a degree and background in biology as well as an MBA, has been with Corning for 33 years, working her way from product management to her current executive role. Here's what they had to say about women in STEM.