Female representation in STEM: Is an MBA the answer?

STEM is a growing occupational option but the number of women in these careers is often lower than men.

By U2B Staff 

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There seems to be a notion that women are less likely to study or work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM fields. The 2015 UNESCO Science Report: Towards 2030 report says that women will account for 53% of the world’s bachelor’s and master’s graduates in STEM fields.

These numbers indicate that while female representation in STEM education is projected to grow, female representation in STEM education and careers is currently still poor.

STEM is the discipline of the future, and careers in digital-born companies will remain the most sought-after in an evolving labour market.

According to a National Association of Manufacturing and Deloitte report, the United States will need to fill 3.5 million STEM jobs by 2025 but more than 2 million are expected to go unfilled because of the lack of skilled candidates.

The skills gap is already affecting STEM industries in the country – in Bullhorn’s North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends report last year, 73% of companies serving manufacturing industries and 65% of those in information technology and accounting, finance and insurance listed skills shortages as their top challenges.

The importance of technology in businesses across industries can no longer be ignored but what has become increasingly clear is the importance of talent with business expertise to technology giants like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.


Are STEM MBAs the answer?

STEM fields are currently facing a critical shortage of female representation which results in a lack of overall diversity. It has been found that only 3% of students enrolling in information and communication technology (ICT) courses across the globe are female. That improves slightly to 5% for mathematics and statistics courses. The numbers are slightly better with 8% for engineering courses.

Female representation in some fields fares more poorly than others. For instance, in the computer science field, the gender gap leaves much to be desired. Females only make up 30% of master’s degrees and 20% of the doctorate degree holders.

The engineering field faces a similar challenge where females make up a mere 25% of master’s degrees and 23% of the doctorate degree holders.

Increasing the number of women in STEM fields will not only do wonders for diversity in the field but also plug the skills shortage plaguing the industry.

Currently, 38% of full-time MBA students globally are female, and the representation of women in MBA programmes is rising.

According to a study conducted by Forte, female MBAs see a 55 to 65% increase in remuneration compared to their pre-MBA income within five years of graduation. The report also found that companies with female board directors experience on average, a 53% higher return on equity while 85% of MBA graduates attribute their MBA in advancing their careers.

MBA graduates have proven to be highly employable in the tech industry. In fact, 84% of those who graduated from the 131 MBA programmes found employment within three months, according to a survey of recent graduates.


With the more recent technology boom, MBA graduates are increasingly driven to seek opportunities with the tech giants of Silicon Valley, which opens great opportunities for more women in STEM fields.

Business schools are rushing to add STEM MBAs as part of their offerings, and the popularity of these qualifications is also increasing.

Columbia Business School, NYU Stern, UC Berkeley Haas, CMU Tepper, and Simon Business School all offer full-time STEM MBA programmes.

In a nutshell, MBAs with STEM specialisations give you the advantage of a general MBAs that will cover the key aspects of an MBA with the additional emphasis on technology.

This allows you, as the learner to gain the knowledge and skills related to general business, management, and leadership, on top of the specialisation in technology.