The Gaps


What kind of person do you picture when you hear the word “scientist?” How about “engineer?” While Asians face the model minority stereotype of excelling in science, technology, and mathematics (STEM), as the following images show, there exists a wide gender gap between men and women, as well as a racial or ethnic gap between white people and minorities in these industries. The following graphs display data from the National Scientific Foundation from 1993 through 2010; however, the lack of diversity in STEM continues today, and as a result, entities including universities, research-based organizations like the Pew Research Center, and news outlets such as The Verge have conducted studies on these disparities.

Data source: National Science Foundation’s STEM Education Data

While women constituted over half of health-care professionals in 2017 and social scientists and psychologists from most of the time between 1993 and 2010 (see “Women as a percentage of all workers in S&E occupations: 1993–2010”), these majorities belong to only a few STEM-related jobs, and as shown by the graph, men generally have more space in the STEM workplace than women. The same is true with respect to minorities, for whom Asians (see “Racial/ethnic distribution of workers in S&E occupations: 1993–2010”) are an outlier, since this group holds significantly more STEM-related jobs than other minorities; however, the disparity between white people and minority groups is still evident.

Data source: National Science Foundation’s STEM Education Data

Two reasons behind these gaps appear to be heightened discrimination and sexual harrassment or assault in the workplace. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that 50% of women who worked in STEM reported that they faced gender-based discrimination, compared to 41% of women working in other fields. Furthermore, more women—22% of those surveyed—reported facing sexual harrassment in the workplace than men, of whom only 7% responded affirmatively. The same survey indicated that between 42% and 62% of each group of minorities surveyed reported that they felt discriminated against because of their race or ethnicity, in comparison to only 13% of the surveyed white people.While a variety of experiences exists within each minority group and each gender, and this one factor is not, by any means, the only reason why the lack of diversity in STEM exists, the systemic gender discrimination and racism faced respectively by women and minorities remains a cause that is consistently referenced. We, as a society, must be aware of this obstacle and make every attempt to resolve it—whether through educational training in the workplace or teaching children from early ages to keep their minds open—because diversity only enriches us.

The following app contains the program used to create the above graphs. Click the second button from the left (which is shaped like a triangle pointing to the right) to run the code, and the graphs will appear in the window on the right side. You can also play around with the code in the text box on the left side.

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  1. April 26, 2019 by Luis Mendoza Perez

    Hi Samiha! I love this presentation. The coding portion is probably the most creative interactive portion of a catalyst conference presentation that I’ve seen and this is my second years doing one. The racial component of this is very interesting. Intersectionality really should come into play when discussing women in STEM because it is very lopsided.

  2. April 27, 2019 by Ranon

    Hey Samiha!
    This is really cool to see. I just came from Hamza’s article about racism in computer science and this perfectly illustrates the ideas behind inequality in the workforce. It’s honestly crazy to see such low percentages of women in STEM related fields. I am glad that the percentages seem to be going up.

  3. April 27, 2019 by James Howe

    These graphs seem remarkably steady over the years, do you know if there is any data that goes back farther?

  4. April 28, 2019 by Eva Batelaan

    Very interesting analysis on the gender distribution of STEM-field employment. I like that you included a race component as well and a larger call to action to end sex-based and race-based discrimination in the work force. One thing that I would have liked to see along side the race diagram would have been a population distribution of the United States, meaning another chart that would complement the first one by showing the current of stem jobs differs greatly from the overall population’s racial distribution.

  5. April 29, 2019 by Annie Ma

    Samiha!!! Oh my god this is so cool and so in-depth. I like how you separated out the various types of STEM fields. I especially appreciate that you linked the gaps back to the underlying causes of racism/discrimination because it reminds us that these disparities don’t just exist in a vacuum.

  6. April 29, 2019 by Haley

    Your visualizations are beautiful! So clear and concise. I was able to understand them right away, although your explanation was well written and connected to your graphs.

  7. April 30, 2019 by Nikhil

    You seem very skilled with Bokeh, because the graphs and tables were very clear. Very impressive!

  8. May 01, 2019 by Jessica

    Hi Samiha,
    I like your presentation! I am also curious about the demographics of the STEM fields and how they change in time, plus I am also a big fan of datas and graphs! One thing that I did notice however, it that the trends are different for women in stem and minorities in stem. For example, while the percentage of females in biological sciences has increased by a lot, the percentage of females in maths and computer science has slightly decreased; while the percentage of whites in stem fields decreased by a lot, most of the gain is from asians, and the percentage of other minorities in the fields almost stayed constant. There could definitely be more explanations and exploration on what have caused these disparities, and if possible I hope you can dig deeper into it. I can’t wait to read more discussions on this topic!

  9. May 03, 2019 by Joseph.Wang

    Great read! Really fascinating to see how great the female workforce is especially in STEM. The heightened racial discrimination in the workforce is of great concern.

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