Different, Not Deficient: The Challenges Women Face in STEM Fields

  • Lynda Kenney (University of North Dakota)
  • Pam McGee (Minnesota State University–Moorhead)
  • Kaninika Bhatnager (Eastern Illinois University)


Despite the increase in female labor force participa- tion, women remain substantially underrepresent- ed in most science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The small number of women in these and similar fields have variously been at- tributed to discrimination and differences in ability or choice (Rosenbloom, 2008). The reason women have made such a slow entrance into STEM fields remains controversial. Former Harvard President Larry Summers speculated at a January 2005 conference on the possibility that differences in the distribution of ability among men and women might play some role in the small numbers of women at the highest levels in science. Women face differential barriers to entry into the technical and scientific fields that discourage their participation. If these barriers were eliminated women and men would enter technical occupations in equal numbers (Rosenbloom, 2008). This research is based on the theory that women are different, not deficient in their ability to succeed in STEM related careers. The authors of this paper believe that stereotypes are impacting women’s de- cisions to pursue and remain in STEM career fields, including stereotypes relative to abilities, societal influences, and workplace environments. Included in this study are discussions and recommendations targeted toward parents, educators, and industry to reduce the effects of stereotypes as they relate to the challenges that women face in STEM career fields.

Keywords: administration, higher education, leadership, women and technology

How to Cite:

Kenney, L. & McGee, P. & Bhatnager, K., (2012) “Different, Not Deficient: The Challenges Women Face in STEM Fields”, The Journal of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering 28(2).

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Published on
03 Jan 2012