Do STEM Jobs Have a Gender Discrimination Problem?

Are you a victim of wage theft? Qualcomm, a major manufacturer of semiconductors and telecommunications equipment, is paying $19.5 million to settle gender discrimination claims against female employees. According to the class action lawsuit, Qualcomm discriminated against female workers employed in STEM-related jobs (science, technology, engineering and math).

How did Qualcomm get itself into trouble? The lawsuit suggests women were given fewer promotions and paid less than male workers. Complaints against Qualcomm claim the discrimination was especially bad for working mothers, who were forced to juggle professional and family commitments.

Only employees who were available to work late were offered higher pay and promotions. Records from the lawsuit show only 15 percent of senior positions at Qualcomm were staffed by women.

Is the case against Qualcomm a unique example of gender bias in STEM-related job? Or are cases like this frequent throughout the industry?

Gender Discrimination in STEM Involves More Than Unequal Pay

A recent publication from the Harvard Business Review suggests women face several types of discrimination in STEM-related jobs. For example, two-thirds of women working at STEM jobs have reported instances where they have been deemed incompetent. Another two-thirds report hitting a ‘brick wall’ in their career tracks after having children. More than one-third of women surveyed reported walking a tightrope between being seen as too masculine or too feminine.

Additional research from Ohio State University (OSU) has discovered female workers in STEM-related jobs are paid 31 percent less than men. Although the OSU study suggests women are more likely to pick STEM careers in academia or biomedical fields (which pay less than computer science or engineering), the research claims women with children are still paid less than men within the same industries.

The problems found in STEM-related careers are also present in many other types of jobs. Regardless of an employer’s reasoning, it is against California and federal law to pay workers less money because of their gender. It is also illegal for employers to discriminate against women because they have familial obligations. Women who have evidence of gender discrimination should contact an attorney to explore available legal options.

The Los Angeles employment law attorneys at the Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob can help workers who have been subjected to gender discrimination.



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