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Study on STEM Entrepreneurship: Are women on a level playing field?

Following up on this week's Babson College report on the gender gap in the venture capital industry and the small percentage of women-led ventures, here is another report.

Today, the Office of Advocacy, an independent office within the Small Business Administration, released a report entitled Understanding the Gender Gap in STEM Fields Entrepreneurship.  The report highlights some potential reasons behind gender differences in entrepreneurial behavior for the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“We know degrees in the STEM fields provide for a lucrative and successful career path, but we must also recognize STEM as an entrepreneurial opportunity.  An opportunity that we want to make sure is equally available to both women and men,” said Dr. Winslow Sargeant, Chief Counsel for Advocacy.  “Today’s study shows areas where policymakers may want to focus to improve women involvement in STEM entrepreneurship.”

Some interesting findings in the report include:

  • Across all STEM fields, female PhDs have lower rates of patenting and entrepreneurship than do male PhDs (5.4 percent versus 7 percent and 15 percent versus 28 percent, respectively). 
  • In 2012, according to the Department of Education, women continue to lag men in entrepreneurially inclined engineering PhD fields, earning between 15 and 30 percent of these PhDs. 
  • The difference in entrepreneurship rates are widest in physics, astronomy, and computer science. 
  • Women are just as likely as men to be entrepreneurs when their first postdoctoral job is in industry. 
  • Women who attended universities with industry funded research and development are more likely to start an entrepreneurial venture.
  • Graduate and postdoctoral training environments may influence female involvement in STEM entrepreneurship.

The full report and report summary can be found here on the Office of Advocacy website.