Employment for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is higher in Yukon than the national average, according to a new report.
“Yukon is really an excellent place for women who are looking for employment in STEM fields,” said RJ Smith, a co-author of the Current State of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in Yukon. The report came from the Westcoast Women in Engineering, Science and Technology Associate Chair at Yukon College.
The report uses data collected from a variety sources such as Statistics Canada, Yukon College and the Yukon government among others. It looks at women and girls from the elementary school level all the way to professional employment in order to create a snapshot of the current state and the interest women and girls have in those fields.
The report states there are a greater number of women employed in STEM at 83 per cent, compared to 77 per cent for men in the territory. The report breaks down employment and unemployment rates by sectors, such as engineering and technology, but show that “distribution of employed women was higher” than men overall across STEM disciplines.
The report states that these figures show that there is a high demand for women in these fields.
“If you persevere through your education or programming, you do have a future of employment, especially in the Yukon,” said Smith.
However, the report also notes there is a discrepancy between genders for more skilled positions.
“Those women are not necessarily getting managerial positions,” said Smith.
The report states there are almost 1.5 times as many men in higher level professional STEM positions than women in Yukon, and two times as many men in managerial positions.
When it comes to funding for research projects, women received lower funding than their male counterparts on average.
The highest amount of funding for a female-led project received more than $87,000 per project in 2013/14.
Over a four year period from 2012 to 2016 female-led projects received $25,000 or less on average. There were no female-led projects for the 2016/17 year.
Male-led projects received an average of more than $80,000 over five years surveyed from 2012 to 2017.
“Just because the project is male or female-led, it does not mean that is the majority makeup of the team,” said Smith.
Enrolment in tech programs
For women pursuing STEM in post-secondary education at Yukon College, 56 per cent of female applicants that applied to computer support technician and information technology programs did not get in. Of those accepted, 25 per cent did not enrol and only 19 per cent enrolled.
For men applying to the same program 33 per cent were rejected and 43 per cent of those accepted enrolled.
The report points to this discrepancy as a possible unconscious bias in the application review process.
“Not accepting women into programs to begin with can result in an imbalance in classroom ratios, which in turn can lead to feelings of stereotype threat in women,” according to the report.
The report had several recommendations including Yukon College tracking the underlying reason for why students are choosing their programs based on interest, opportunity or other reasons.
They also recommended that the Yukon government address the lack of data available in high school enrolment and success rates for STEM courses.