Big Data dominates our economy. Yet, we don’t have consistent, standardized and real-time data on the jobs driving that 21st century-Big Data economy: science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Especially for women. In the labyrinth of sources, the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data seems to be the most detailed, but it’s relative; it’s not even clear exactly which jobs they include.
“Where data comes in is to put greater pressure on educational institutions and on employers to monitor what they’re doing and be held accountable if they lose women, if they keep losing women, or keep not getting women in the first place,” Ariane Hegewisch, Ph.D., Program Director Employment & Earnings at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, told me. She added that it’s important to see the racial data as well, because, “it does impact women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds very differently.”
The devil’s in the definitions: “There is no standard definition of a STEM occupation.”
A big part of the problem is defining these jobs. The BLS lists all occupations and you need to mine their breakdown to find what you want. The BLS defines STEM jobs as: “Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) occupations include computer and mathematical, architecture and engineering, and life and physical science occupations, as well as managerial and postsecondary teaching occupations related to these functional areas and sales occupations requiring scientific or technical knowledge at the postsecondary level.”
Using this definition, women made slight gains in computer science jobs in 2020, from 24.9% overall in Q1-2020 to 25.1% by Q4-2020.