Employees in fields such as engineering and sciences earn some of the top starting salaries available in the United States. The median salary is currently close to $110,000 annually. This is also a growing employment sector. Growth between 2010 and 2014 was 7 percent and expected growth between 2012 and 2022 is around 20 percent, opening many jobs for women.

However, women are under-represented in engineering, scientific, and technological careers across the United States. Although they account for half of the population and only slightly less of the workforce, their representation in engineering and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields is just 24 percent.

Women are also underpaid compared with men who tackle the same professions, earning about $5 per hour less than their male counterparts if they can obtain a comparable job at all. Much of the time, women are overlooked for the highest-paid positions or the ones which directly utilize STEM skills learned at university. Women are more likely to transfer their skills into teaching or health care than men owing to prejudice against females in industrial sciences. Women only account for about 12 percent of the engineering workforce.

When scholarship money for future students is being awarded, females receive between ¼ and ½ of the money males receive. Lack of funding could contribute to reasons why a little less than 1/5th of engineering undergraduates are female.

Closing the gap

Young women might be encouraged to enter courses such as engineering at the university if they take part in high-school or early college courses outlining the various directions they could take as they progress with their studies. They could be more interested if it was clear how much of an impact these professions have on society as well. Interacting with successful female engineers has the potential to motivate female students. Educators and employers need to promote fairer attitudes regarding employment and wages.

The New Jersey Institute of Technology Master of Science in Civil Engineering (http://graduatedegrees.online.njit.edu/masters-engineering-programs/civil-engineering) program created the following infographic examining the rise of women in STEM.

NJIT Online