Women make up nearly half of the country's workforce, yet they hold less than 25 percent of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The movement to get more women involved in STEM fields has garnered a lot of attention over the last several years. Organizations like Girls Who Code and Steminist have gained traction in encouraging women to pursue careers in the STEM fields.
President Obama even put some of his own initiatives into play through a renewed commitment to encourage females and other underrepresented populations to pursue STEM careers on behalf of The White House Council on Women and Girls in tandem with The Office of Science and Technology Policy.
What drives this effort to amplify gender diversity in STEM-related work environments? Studies have revealed that gender-balanced companies actually see improved employee performance, they do better financially and they demonstrate greater team dynamics and productivity.
The landscape of higher education has been listening intently to the conversation surrounding women in STEM. As a result, The College of St. Scholastica (CSS) is one of many colleges in the nation encouraging female undergraduates to pursue degrees in the STEM fields.
CSS has long been committed to supporting underrepresented students in its academic programs. In fact, the college has dedicated years to reworking the curriculum and pedagogy for its computer information science program to make it more inclusive to women, among other underrepresented students.
This came in the wake of a January 2014 initiative put into play by President Obama and the First Lady. They issued a call to action for higher education institutions to renew their commitments to increase college opportunity across all spectrums of underrepresented students. Among them was the commitment to broaden achievement and participation in STEM fields to represent more women, low-income students and underserved communities.
Several colleges have since instituted an array of outreach and mentorship programs, have actively begun recruiting female students for their STEM programs and have worked toward alleviating the misconceptions and instead foster a stereotype-free environment for their students.
The landscape of STEM fields in colleges and universities in the U.S. is slowly shifting—but those small changes can make a big difference. From actively pursuing female students to fostering a more inclusive program environment, they are sending a message to female college hopefuls across the country: We want YOU in STEM!
The path to a STEM career may seem intimidating, but it can be helpful to remember the monumental women who have begun paving that path for you. From IBM's Ginni Rometty to Yahoo's Marissa Mayer, nine of Fortune's 10 Most Powerful Women in Business for 2014 majored in STEM fields.
The Department of Commerce reports that STEM workers earn considerably higher salaries than those working in other occupational fields. Even the gender wage gap is progressively decreasing in STEM fields. For every dollar earned by a man in STEM, a woman earns 14 cents (or 14 percent) less. That number is notably smaller than the 21 percent gender wage gap that is prevalent in non-STEM fields, and will likely continue to shrink in the coming years.
Let these statistics serve as the inspiration you need to pursue your dream STEM career. The tides are changing for women in STEM—now could be your chance to ride those waves toward your own career success story.