Why do women leave STEM positions? It’s the cultural climate… duh


This is a new post about women in STEM. But this one offers the unique perspective because it is about women in STEM INDUSTRY positions, rather than academic positions.

I have made it no secret that I’m considering industry over academia (see post here), which is why I found this article over at Medium so interesting.

The author (Rachel Thomas) has the unique perspective of simultaneously being passionate about the work she’s pursuing in industry, and disgusted by the culture of programming in a non academic setting.

Short summary:

Bad News: There is a crazy high attrition rate for women working in tech (38% retention rate for women in engineering). As a result, the pipeline problem might not be in the earlier stages of the pipeline, meaning that educating more girls and women in STEM fields is not enough to rectify the problem. Rather, the author suggests that we need to find a way to change the cultural community within STEM industries.

Good News: The author still thinks change is possible. Within academic settings (Harvey Mudd and Harvard Business School) strong leaders at both institutions caused sweeping changes to address previously male-centric cultures. There is hope!