Women in STEM Careers

Women in STEM Careers

International Perspectives on Increasing Workforce Participation, Advancement and Leadership

Edited by Diana Bilimoria and Linley Lord

Adopting an international perspective, this book draws on current research from the United States, Australia and Europe examining women’s participation, advancement and leadership in STEM fields. The book explores the nature of STEM careers across industry and academia, and presents the latest thinking on successful individual, organisational and educational initiatives related to women in STEM. An invaluable resource for scholars, practitioners and policy-makers in organisations and government, as well as for women aspiring to or presently working in STEM fields.

Chapter 7: Women as power resources: Putting theory into practice

Charlotte Holgersson, Pia Höök and Anna Wahl

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, gender and management, human resource management


The purpose of this chapter is to contribute to our knowledge of working for gender equality in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) organizations by describing the design and perspective of a specific women only change project involving women engineers in a manufacturing company and in a technical university. The results of the project will be analyzed and discussed in relation to implications for work for change. Although most individuals in Sweden are positive towards gender equality on a rhetorical level, men and women face different conditions in the labor market. For example, the labor market is gender segregated with women and men mainly working in women and male dominated professions respectively. Men also dominate in higher positions in organizations and there continues to exist a wage gap between men and women (Hagberg et al., 1995; SOU, 1994, p._3; SOU, 2003, p._16; Statistics Sweden, 2012). Women engineers do not face the same conditions as men when pursuing a career in industry nor in academia. Among engineering students starting 2011, 28 percent were women, 72 percent were men (Statistics Sweden, 2011). The proportion of women PhDs in engineering, manufacturing and construction was 29 percent in 2006 and the proportion of women professors in engineering and technology was 8.3 percent in 2007. The proportion of women with an engineering background among researchers in industry was 25 percent in 2006 (Husu and Koskinen, 2010) and only six out of 146 engineers in executive teams among large listed technical companies (42 in total) are women (Ahlbom, 2010).

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