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Women in STEM careers face greater discrimination

Careers in science, technology, engineering and math frequently offer high-paying career opportunities to people in New York. Women and minorities, however, experience high levels of harassment and discrimination in these occupations according to a survey prepared by the Pew Research Center. Half of women in STEM jobs reported gender discrimination. Drawing upon data provided by some large technology companies, the Pew report found low levels of employment among blacks and Hispanics in STEM positions compared to other employment sectors.

After researchers reviewed the survey responses from 4,914 adults, they concluded that women reported more discrimination when they worked for majority-male organizations, used computers or held a postgraduate degree. According to the report, gender discrimination and sexual harassment created barriers to career success for women. A lower percentage of men recognized sexual harassment as a problem in STEM workplaces than their female colleagues.

The researchers acknowledged that gender inequality was not unique to STEM fields, but survey results indicated that 50 percent of STEM-employed women experienced discrimination whereas 41 percent of women in other occupations reported unfair treatment. Discrimination afflicted black people in STEM jobs at an even higher rate. Among blacks, 62 percent of them reported discrimination. Asian and Hispanic STEM workers also complained of discrimination at rates of 44 percent and 42 percent respectively.

Although state and federal laws offer protection from employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, disability and age, employers often respond inadequately to complaints from employees. A person denied a job, passed over for promotion or subjected to harassment could seek out legal representation when mistreated. An attorney could review the circumstances and file a lawsuit if an employer failed to observe the law.

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