September 12, 2017 9:47 pm

Women in STEM disproportionately placed in non-professional jobs: TD report

Visual control of a solar panel within the production process on August 01, 2017 in Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany.

(Photo by Thomas Koehler/Photothek via Getty Images)
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Women in the technology and Engineering fields are not less qualified but are disproportionately placed in lower, non-professional roles in Canada, according to a new report.

The report Women and STEM: Bridging the Divide, released by TD Economics on Sept. 12, focused on how far women have come in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (or STEM) fields.

The report says STEM fields could play an integral part in bridging the overall wage gap since it offers higher incomes compared to other occupations.

READ MORE: Challenging the Wage Gap: Who can help improve gender equality in Canada?


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But only one in five people graduating from engineering programs in universities are women – which is nearly identical to the statistics from 10 years ago.

In computer science and math, one in four people graduating with degrees are women, a statistic that’s actually worse than those of 20 years ago.

“Girls and women appear to face many layers of systemic bias throughout their career progression within the STEM field,” the report states.

STEM roles can be sorted into professional and technical jobs, where female professionals make between 30 to 37 per cent more than a woman in a technical role.

READ MORE: Here’s what Canadian women would be making in these jobs if they were men

TD found that women with bachelor degrees in a STEM field were more likely than men to have a technical role instead of professional — 30 per cent of technical roles are women with a bachelor’s degree, while 21 per cent of roles are men with similar degrees.

But it also found that women with master’s degrees in a STEM field didn’t have this problem, or at least it wasn’t as bad. (78 per cent of women in STEM with a master’s degree held a professional role, compared to 84 per cent of men.)

While the extra degree improves a women’s chances at a professional role, “this silver lining is tainted if women per­ceive this to be a necessary step in order to mitigate the occurrence of ‘occupational sorting,’” TD explains.

But it offers up some solutions.

“Everyone has a role to play in reducing educational and labour market friction,” the report states.

Employers are urged to take a look at hiring practices, and check for occupation sorting and wage disparity. Parents and educators are urged to encourage young girls to explore STEM fields.

The report was released after wide media coverage of a former-Google employee was fired after slamming his company’s diversity policies in an internal memo. James Damore argued that the gender gap in the tech sector can be blamed on inherent differences between men and women, leading to widespread criticism from activists around the globe. Damore was fired for his comments, which violated the company’s code of conduct, Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained.

WATCH: Google fires employee behind gender gap memo

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