The STEM Gap in Engineering

Engineering is a rewarding field with a diverse range of potential career paths. Unfortunately, there’s a longstanding gap between the number of women and number of men in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and that gap is widest in engineering.  

Concerning Statistics for the Engineering Field 

A late 2023 Gallup poll showed that only 24% of surveyed Gen Z women were interested in engineering careers, as compared to 52% of the Gen Z men surveyed. The same group of women showed more, though not equal, interest in technology and math and only exceeded men in interest in life and physical sciences.  

What’s the explanation? Some possibilities are that these women don’t enjoy STEM, lack the self-confidence that they will succeed in such fields, or believe they won’t be treated equally on the job. The Gallup poll supports these theories. However, the poll also shows that the same women had less exposure to STEM topics during middle school and high school than men, apart from environmental science.  

This poll data suggests that many women haven’t had the same encouragement to pursue STEM studies throughout their lives. This begs the question, might women show more interest in engineering, technology, math, and many science topics today if they received equal exposure to these subjects earlier on?  

Tapping Unrealized Potential 

A workforce lacking diversity is a detriment to any field. It can hinder innovation and limit the talent pool. Yet women have made significant contributions to engineering, from 1930’s Hollywood legend Heddy Lamarr, who helped develop technology that prevented enemies from interfering with radio-guided torpedoes in World War II, to Mae Jemison, whose engineering accomplishments led NASA to choose her as the first Black woman to go to space.  

Considering the unrealized potential associated with low engineering interest among women today, who knows what potential engineering innovations may never come to fruition? 

Words of Encouragement 

If you’re a woman interested in engineering, we encourage you to pursue that interest further and consider a career in the field. When you join the ranks of other female engineers excelling in their field, you may even help lead the way for others who need the inspiration.  

Most engineering careers begin with a Bachelor of Science. Once you’ve completed that degree, graduate studies can increase both your knowledge and professional advancement potential. 

Online Engineering Programs for You 

The University of Wisconsin–Madison offers online programs in some of today’s most popular engineering subfields, including:   

All these 100% online programs offer the same flexibility to complete coursework on your own schedule from any location, distinguished and internationally renowned faculty from the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC) and small class sizes. No GRE is required for admission. 

We invite you to attend one of our upcoming virtual information sessions or choose one of our informative archived sessions here. If you’ve already picked out a program, apply now. We hope to see you in class soon!