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Tag Archives: STEM

AAgradorangeRising productivity, profitability and stock prices have long been heralded as signs of economic recovery from the Great Recession.  Many segments of the population, however, have yet to experience any relief.  Initially concentrated among the upper classes, gains in employment, income and wealth have gradually spread to middle America, but many groups, including race/ethnic minorities and young people have been left behind.

Young people suffered a disproportionate share of job losses in the recession, and current trends suggest that they will be among the last to share in the benefits of economic recovery.  Although a college degree offers some protections in a competitive labor market, it is not uncommon for recent college graduates (males somewhat more than females) to struggle with unemployment for many months following graduation.  Many who do find jobs are underemployed – working fewer hours than they would like or in jobs for which they are overqualified

With an unemployment rate roughly double that of their white counterparts, young African American college graduates have even greater difficulty securing employment.  The Center for Economic and Policy Research reports that in 2013, 12.4 percent of African American college graduates age 22-27 were unemployed, compared to 5.6 of all college graduates in this age group, and more than half of those who had jobs were underemployed.  Those with degrees in the highly sought-after STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fared little better, with unemployment and underemployment rates of 10 percent and 32 percent respectively.

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Scientific objectivity and the cool assessment of facts are the hallmarks of the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. So, of course, stereotypes have no place in these research labs and university departments. Or so you might think. But, when evaluating identical resumes, scientists may be significantly less likely to agree to mentor, offer jobs, or recommend equal salaries to a candidate if the name at the top of the resume is Jennifer, rather than John.

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by Erin A. Cech and Mary Blair-Loy

The widespread fascination with the TV series Mad Men is partly due to the stark contrast it draws between the postwar professional workforce portrayed in the series and the realities of that same workforce today. Although still largely male-dominated, professional occupations are no longer predominantly populated by men who serve as family breadwinners and have stay-at-home spouses. Women are in the workforce standing shoulder to shoulder with men as household earners and nearly half of couples with young children now juggle childcare responsibilities along with two careers. Despite a professional workforce demographic that is decidedly post-Mad Men, workplace arrangements and expectations of “ideal workers” in professions today could be ripped right out of a Mad Men script.

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Males retain lion’s share of power and prestige in post-recession economy.

by Inga Kiderra

(This article was originally published on the UC San Diego News Center. The original version can be read here.)

It’s March 2013 – 50 years after Betty Friedan’s explosive book launched feminism’s “second wave,” 41 after Title IX, the equal-opportunity amendment banning sex discrimination in education, was signed into law – and some exceptionally successful women are making a lot of news. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is riding high in public opinion, winning straw polls for the 2016 presidency. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, after shrugging off maternity leave, has sparked the “Great Telecommuting Debate” with a company-wide ban on working from home. And Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, is on the cover of TIME and every other national stage, it seems, talking about “Lean In,” her just-published memoir and “sort of feminist” manifesto on succeeding as a female in corporate America.

The very presence of these women would seem to contradict the need for a national dialogue on women in the workplace that Sandberg is urging. Except that it doesn’t. These women are rare exceptions – according to a report from the Center for Research on Gender in the Professions at the University of California, San Diego.

The report details ongoing inequalities in the American labor market on the basis of gender.

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The Huffington Post recently reported a story about the declining numbers of blacks working in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.  Overall, the numbers of workers in STEM fields is declining, but black Americans’ numbers are shrinking to very low percentages. The article cites a number of factors that may explain this, including but not limited to a lack of role confidence (a factor that sociologist Erin Cech and her colleagues also note affects women in STEM fields as well), economic and financial considerations, and a lack of role models and social support in the field.

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