GE plants women STEM seeds

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

GE on Feb. 13 announced goals of having 20,000 women fill STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) roles by 2020 and obtaining 50:50 representation in all the company’s technical entry-level programs.

“The program will significantly increase the representation of women in GE’s engineering, manufacturing, IT and product management roles—a strategy necessary to inject urgency into addressing ongoing gender imbalance in technical fields and fully transform into a digital industrial company,” GE said. “While efforts have been made across the sector through education, funded initiatives and the emergence of non-profit discussion, progress has been slow on this issue. Technical and engineering sectors are still male-dominated and the pipeline for future talent is currently insufficient to meet future needs.”

GE said that, without more women in technology and manufacturing, it “expects the skills gap to widen, impacting productivity and diminishing the potential of digital and other new technologies transforming industry and manufacturing.”

In a white paper, “Engineering the Future: The Socio-Economic Case for Gender Equality” (downloadable at the link below), GE Chief Economist Marco Annunziata and Global Economist Kimberly Chase outline what they term “the talent crisis for women in STEM roles” as well as “the economic opportunity of addressing gender imbalance across the sector.”

“In the U.S. today, only 14% of all engineers and 25% of all IT professionals are women,” Annunziata and Chase point out. “Though women make up 55% of all college and graduate students overall, only 18% of computer science graduates are female, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among the major tech giants, women are still under-represented, making up 13-24% of the tech-related jobs, and 17-30% ascending to leadership positions. While women tend to outnumber men overall in higher education (55% to 45%), the share is much smaller for STEM education. Nearly 40% percent of women with engineering degrees either leave the profession or never enter the field, according to a widely cited [American Psychological Association] 2014 study” (downloadable at the link below).

According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), “closing the gender gap could increase GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by up to 10% by 2030,” Annunziata and Chase point out. “One study showed that more-gender-diverse companies performed 53% better than lesser ones, including a 35% increase in ROE (return on equity) and a 34% increase in total returns. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) economists found that a gender shift could increase revenue by 41%. Business has a critical role to play in the recruitment and retention of women in the technology sector, supported by government, ccademia and NGOs (non-governmental organizations). The increased involvement of women in the sector will have real and positive socio-economic impact. Unless we bring more women into technology and manufacturing, there will be a significant negative economic impact on the sector. This is a problem for business to actively address.”

GE said it believes that “the commercial imperative, coupled with the ongoing challenges of recruiting and retaining top female talent in STEM jobs, means organizations must make continued, real investment in closing the gender gap. Our holistic approach outlines clear actions, including the re-examination of our executive school portfolio to more clearly align with the company’s focus on digital industrial capabilities, and the introduction of a Chief Technology Advisory Council to inform future retention strategies, including career advancement and leadership development opportunities. GE will also continue to benchmark, explore and implement employee programs and benefits that foster a fair and inclusive culture where all employees can thrive.”

* A non-governmental organization (NGO) is defined as “a not-for-profit organization that is independent from states and international governmental organizations, usually funded by donations, though some avoid formal funding altogether and are run primarily by volunteers.”







Tags: , , ,