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As a woman in a STEM field or a woman going into a STEM field, have you ever felt that you were in any discriminated against due to your gender?

As an 18 year old female chem major (soon to be chemical engineering), I'm curious about others experiences in typically male dominated classes/majors/jobs. #engineering #science #chemistry #stem #chemical-engineering #women-in-stem #women-in-tech #women-in-engineering

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Joan’s Answer

I unfortunately have not been as lucky as Padma. The answer for me is yes. I got lower raises than male coworkers with equal experience, doing the same work (in fact, I also helped him sometimes), and he got promoted faster than I did. One company had the audacity to offer me, with 3 years of direct experience, the same salary they offered my younger brother right out of college, which was $20,000 less than what I was asking for and currently making. Both of these were programming roles. I have also had two jobs where I'm pretty sure my pay was absolutely fair gender-wise. Also keep in mind that just because you have a female manager doesn't necessarily mean you'll get treated equally as your male coworkers.

The only suggestion I really have is to know your worth! With glassdoor and other ways to check salaries, make sure you ask for at least the average. Always negotiate your job offers if you are interested in the role (in the case of the second company, I found it so insulting I just decided it wasn't worth it). I find it really scary to negotiate, but that's one way males end up making more. Vacations and perks are other ways you can negotiate. Also don't be afraid to apply to jobs that you aren't 100% qualified for; companies post their dream applicant, but know they're asking for more than they can get.

And finally, there are companies out there that do try hard to pay equally!

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Carol’s Answer

I've had a few minor instances, but mostly my experience has been positive. I'm possibly a little older than some of these other respondents, sexism and discrimination were more generalised in every industry when I started working so it was something I would have had to deal with back then even if I hadn't been in a STEM career. However it has definitely improved over the last decade or so, I'm no longer the only woman on the team in most cases, and my coworkers over the last two decades have never questioned my ability to do the job as well as they do whether I'm a woman or not. If you read the research, a lot of the pay disparity in modern times is because men have more self-belief and they are more willing to negotiate a higher starting salary so if you believe in your talents and are willing to stand your ground on what you are worth it's a lot less likely to have a significant effect on your prospects.

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Anne’s Answer

Gender bias is real, but most of the time is quite subtle. Often, men are totally unaware that they are treating women differently or acting inappropriately. These same men may actually want you to succeed, but their behavior may imply otherwise. It's complicated in my opinion. My feeling is that you just have to have confidence in your abilities. You do need to seek out some women (colleagues, professors, in professional organizations, etc.) to use as support and feedback and maybe just to b*tch. Don't second guess yourself. If you love STEM and want a career just have faith in your abilities. I think things have already changed since I was in school and will continue to become more equitable (that's my hope anyway). And if something seems inappropriate, speak up. Not in anger or resentment, but just in the spirit of fairness. Every young person with ability should have the same opportunities regardless of whether they are men or women. We need more women in STEM fields so JUST DO IT.

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Padma Lakshmi’s Answer

The answer is No. As the career growth happens and students become bachelors and masters students the crowd that you are dealing with is more focused and matured. There will be so much to learn and contribute, there wont be any time for any other things like this.