Next Article in Journal
Infrapolitics of Defiance: Forms of Agency Exhibited by Homeless Survivors of Gender-Based Violence
Next Article in Special Issue
Entry and Degree Attainment in STEM: The Intersection of Gender and Race/Ethnicity
Previous Article in Journal
Hashtag Recovery: #Eating Disorder Recovery on Instagram
Previous Article in Special Issue
Making STEM “Family Friendly”: The Impact of Perceiving Science Careers as Family-Compatible
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(3), 69;

A Tale of Two Majors: Explaining the Gender Gap in STEM Employment among Computer Science and Engineering Degree Holders

Department of Policy Analysis & Management, Cornell University, The College of Human Ecology, 297 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
Department of Public Administration and International Affairs, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University, 426 Eggers Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244-1090, USA
Department of Sociology and Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire, Huddleston Hall, 73 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 August 2016 / Revised: 20 June 2017 / Accepted: 26 June 2017 / Published: 3 July 2017
Full-Text   |   PDF [1939 KB, uploaded 3 July 2017]   |  


We examine factors contributing to the gender gap in employment in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) among men and women with bachelor’s degrees in computer science and engineering, the two largest and most male-dominated STEM fields. Data come from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System (SESTAT) from 1995 to 2008. Different factors are associated with persistence in STEM jobs among computer science and engineering degree holders. Conditional on receiving a degree in computer science, women are 14 percentage points less likely to work in STEM than their male counterparts. Controlling for demographic and family characteristics did little to change this gender gap. Women with degrees in engineering are approximately 8 percentage points less likely to work in STEM than men, although about half of this gap is explained by observed differences between men and women. We document a widening gender gap in STEM employment in computer science, but this gender gap narrows across college cohorts among those with degrees in engineering. Among recent computer science graduates, the gender gap in STEM employment for white, Hispanic, and black women relative to white men is even larger than for older graduates. Gender and race gaps in STEM employment for recent cohorts of engineering graduates are generally small, though younger Asian women and men no longer have an employment advantage relative to white men. Our results suggest that a one-size-fits-all approach to increasing women’s representation in the most male-dominated STEM fields may not work. View Full-Text
Keywords: gender; scientists and engineers; STEM employment; gender inequality gender; scientists and engineers; STEM employment; gender inequality

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Sassler, S.; Michelmore, K.; Smith, K. A Tale of Two Majors: Explaining the Gender Gap in STEM Employment among Computer Science and Engineering Degree Holders. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 69.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Soc. Sci. EISSN 2076-0760 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top