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Discrimination is a barrier for women in STEM

Many programs in Illinois and across the country aim to increase the number of women involved in STEM careers, those related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Some estimates say that corporate productivity and the national GDP could face a significant boost if the gender gap is closed in these areas. However, there are a number of complex reasons why women may be more or less likely to pursue a STEM career or to leave that employment path after initially obtaining their degree. Employment discrimination and sexual harassment on the job are two of these factors that can push women outside the tech industry.

In some areas, up to half of all women working in the tech industry have reported some kind of gender discrimination on the job. A full 20% have left a job after dealing with harassment, unwanted sexual advances or unfair treatment. While many people raised concerns about the lack of sufficient diversity in tech, others also noted that existing programs may be insufficient or even detrimental to the cause of achieving parity in the workplace. Women were also more likely than men to raise concerns about diversity issues, even those unrelated to sex or gender. While a growing number of women are receiving STEM degrees, the majority of management positions are still held by men.

Workplace discrimination can take many forms. In some cases, women may face discrimination because of pregnancy or motherhood, even though pregnancy discrimination is unlawful. Studies have also pointed to the effects of implicit bias, where people with hiring authority may subconsciously perceive women as less capable and competent than men.

Regardless of the causes of bias, women may lose thousands of dollars and face significant damages due to employment discrimination. An employment law attorney may work with victims of discrimination to seek justice and accountability.

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