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2014 October 30 - 03:26 am

COMING NOV. 10: Technology Special Report - STEM Women

Some of the country’s industrial and technological giants are headed by women is an encouraging sign

When Fortune magazine recently named its most powerful women in business, the list should have given solace to those who bemoan the relative dearth of women studying the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math. It used to be that the top ranks of Fortune’s list were consistently held by women in creative fields, such as advertising, media and publishing. But this year was different. Almost all of the women on the list — such as Mary Barra, president of General Motors and Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo — majored in one of the hard sciences. That some of the country’s industrial and technological giants are headed by women is an encouraging sign, but it also obscures a more sobering reality: there remains a paucity of women studying the STEM fields. Only one in seven engineers in the country is female. Of the roughly 500,000 associate degrees earned by women at community colleges each year, only about 5 percent are in the STEM fields. At many colleges, women represent less than 20 percent of STEM enrollments, even as they make up more than 50 percent of overall enrollment. Policymakers say that the country must grow its science and technical workforce to remain competitive in the global economy, and they are handing the task to community colleges. At Asheville-Buncombe Technical College, enrollment has more than double due to an aggressive marketing campaign At Wake Technical Community College, women studying STEM can join in a learning community to keep them on track. 

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