Closing The Gap

More women entered STEM over the past 40 years than any other field, new data shows

Sheryl Sandberg, Melinda Gates and Ginni Rometty are just a few of today's biggest tech leaders who have championed getting more women involved in the traditionally male-dominated STEM field. Ahead of International Women's Day, LinkedIn revealed Tuesday that more women entered STEM over the past 40 years than any other field.

"One of the key aspects to closing the gender gap is identifying where we have made progress so we can use those areas as examples to guide us in providing more opportunities for women and tackling current day challenges related to the hiring gap," LinkedIn's senior data scientist Nick Eng tells CNBC Make It.

Through an analysis of its 540 million platform members, LinkedIn looked at each member's first position after earning an associate's degree or bachelor's degree — limited to four years after graduation and excluding internships — to understand what types of roles women were entering each decade.

Eng compared women entering the workforce between 1978 and 1987 to those entering between 2008 and 2017 to understand the difference between the two decades. LinkedIn only analyzed data from countries where at least two-thirds of members identified their gender.

"While we didn't look at data around millennials for this specific story, it's important for young professionals to understand the types of jobs that are on the rise and the skills that are associated with them," Eng says.

Though the analysis concluded more women moved into STEM fields than any other industry, Eng found that not all STEM roles are attracting women at equal rates. For example, women make up just over 20 percent of software developers on the platform, as the number of female data analysts dropped more than 10 percent over the past 40 years.

While women have increasingly been hired into traditionally male-dominated industries, including construction and agriculture, they tend to still hold roles that have often been female-dominated, such as marketing and HR.

"Among female leaders, soft skills like leadership and management are still important across the board. Focusing on developing these skills, especially at particular stages, may be one way for millennials to further their careers," Eng says.

In a related analysis, LinkedIn looked at leadership data from the past eight years and found there has been an increasing rate of female leaders in traditionally male-dominated industries. Still, regardless of industry, soft skills like leadership and management are present among nearly every group of female leaders.

1. Software & IT Services (+27% change in female leadership hires)

Top skills of female leaders: Business Development, Leadership, Management, Project Management, Strategy

2. Manufacturing (+26% change in female leadership hires)

Top skills of female leaders: Customer Service, Management, Microsoft Office, Project Management, Strategic Planning

3. Entertainment (+24% change in female leadership hires)

Top skills of female leaders: Entertainment, Film, Social Media, Television, Video Production

4. Hardware & Networking (+23% change in female leadership hires)

Top skills of female leaders: : Business Development, Leadership, Management, Project Management, Telecommunications

5. Public Safety (+21% change in female leadership hires)

Top skills of female leaders: Government, Leadership, Management, Microsoft Office, Public Speaking

Despite offering some of the highest salaries in the United States, tech jobs still pay women less than their male counterparts who hold the same job at the same company. As Melinda Gates once pointed out, "Women did not create the barriers in tech and we cannot break them down all alone."

"Male allies are absolutely critical in this work and we'll need more of them. But we can lead the way," she said.

For those who are seeking out more opportunities in STEM in the United States, here are the top 10 cities for women in tech in 2018.

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