Women in Global Trade: Stats and Trends

The modern women’s movement has accomplished much over the past 50 years, enabling society to benefit from women’s ingenuity and giving women agency over their lives. It’s opened doors of opportunity, granting women access to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) higher education and careers. That fact that women now dominate health-related areas of STEM is a success story. However, women have not yet achieved parity in every other area of STEM.

Women’s rates of professional participation in engineering and computer science are downright abysmal. That’s a big problem, because including women in engineering and computer science careers is vital for increasing the participation and condition of women in global trade.

The Importance of STEM for Women in Global Trade

Women in STEM Careers

Production and refinement of the world’s most traded goods requires education and careers in the life sciences (biotech), physical sciences, computer science, engineering and math. So how do women fare in this areas?

So what’s going wrong with computer science and engineering? Women who go into these careers report high levels of gender-based discrimination.

To Improve the Condition of Women in Global Trade, Address Sexism in Education

In 2016, collegiate women received more than half of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in the biological sciences, but only 17.9% of computer science degrees, and 19.3% of engineering degrees. The numbers are worse for minority women.

In grade school, students who came from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds were less likely to score well in mathematics and science on standardized tests, and students who came from less-educated parents or from lower socioeconomic status-backgrounds were less likely to take science courses. The divide widens for minority women in college. In 2012, minority women were awarded only 4.1% of doctorate degrees in engineering and science.

Clearly women—especially minority women—are not receiving the education needed to pursue careers in computer science and engineering. But what happens to the few that do go into these fields?

What Computer Science and Engineering Careers are Like for Women

Women Global Trade Leaders, Mentoring New Leaders

Professional associations and mentoring are part of the solution. Professional associations promoting women in various aspects of trade include:

Compliance is an especially bright spot for women in global trade.

“Women dominate in global trade compliance.” — Pinary, Inc. CEO Greta Villagran.

When Women Become Educated Professionals, Everyone Wins

Women were not allowed to participate in the scientific and intellectual movements that allowed humanity to progress; from the thought-revolution of ancient Greece, to the invention of the scientific method, to the enlightenment. Only half of humanity’s brain power was applied to these movements, and we can only imagine what women could have contributed.

By identifying sexism wherever it lies we can work to improve women’s prospects in STEM. Not only will this give women more personal liberty, but it will allow society to benefit from their contributions. And by including women in these highly technical careers, we can improve the contributions made by women in global trade.


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