Working in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is cooler than ever — just ask any scientist who gets to create a coveted new lipstick formula or engineer plugged into the latest coding buzzwords. Even better, STEM fields are growing rapidly, offering enticing wages and increasing career opportunities. In fact, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM workers earn 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts, and STEM jobs are expected to grow 17 percent between 2008 and 2018 (compared to just 9.8 percent for non-STEM jobs).
However, women hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. Why? Research supports a gender bias in STEM for both men and women, and exposes the idea that women are underrepresented because of attitudes and cultural expectations, not ability.
Part of the bias may stem (pun intended) from lack of knowledge about the variety and depth (and, let’s face it, fun and fulfillment) of STEM careers. “No one really connects science with their personal passion points. For me, connecting science with making cosmetics was a natural fit,” says Louise Scott, Avon’s Chief Scientific Officer. Scott’s father was a chemist, so she grew up surrounded by insider science talk—and she now advocates for parents to introduce STEM subjects to all children, especially girls, in an exciting way. She notes, “It’s hard for a child to imagine, ‘what could I do as a career?’ And it’s much less obvious for things that are science related. It sounds less glamorous to be a scientist than it is to be a fashion designer, so how can show that our workplace is enticing?”
Initiatives such as April’s USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., where Avon scientists will be in attendance, allow students to engage in hands-on activities and connect with companies on what STEM is really all about. These events are another step in helping the next generation relate STEM studies with promising career possibilities.
Sound glamorous? It is. Take a look at the eye-opening statistics below and learn why we should all be pro-STEM.
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