Women in STEM Share Their Workplace Experiences

Understanding women’s experiences and professional growth within STEM is essential for promoting gender equality and ensuring diverse talent to fuel innovation. These insights can help improve workplace policies and foster more inclusive and supportive work environments where everyone can thrive on equal footing. With this in mind, we surveyed women working in STEM from around the world to draw on their perspectives. Read on to learn more about the experiences of women in STEM.

Key Takeaways

  • 1 in 10 women in STEM know they’re paid less than their male counterparts.
  • Women in STEM with female mentors receive more frequent promotions and higher salary increases.
  • 18% of women in STEM have been told to smile at work.
  • Remote female STEM workers report fewer gender-based issues than those working in person or hybrid.
  • Nearly 2 in 3 millennial, Gen X, and baby boomer women working in STEM have seen workplace gender equality improve during their careers.

Compensation Comparison

To begin, we wanted to know how women in STEM perceived their raises and rates of promotions in comparison to their male coworkers.

Number of women in STEM receiving raises
While 56% of women in STEM fields earned a raise in the past year, 1 in 4 had yet to receive one at any point in their career. The next question we asked was, how does their pay compare to men working in the same field? A concerning 10% of these women said they had concrete evidence of earning less than their male counterparts, while another 34% suspected it. This corroborates other studies revealing a persistent gender pay gap in the United States across industries.

For many women, the journey to recognition and success in STEM fields is filled with challenges. A significant 45% of women in STEM said they’ve never been promoted. Among those overlooked for promotions during the last two years, 69% said a man got the promotion instead, highlighting a gender bias in career progression. Of the women who had been promoted, 38% believed they were promoted less frequently than their male peers.

The top reason women in STEM cited for this inequitable promotion system was an exclusive male presence in leadership positions (15%). Additionally, 11% of women felt sidelined from informal networking events, 9% struggled to connect with male supervisors, and 6% were perceived as less committed to their work due to family responsibilities.

Alarmingly, more than half of the women we surveyed reported receiving a “quiet promotion,” requiring them to shoulder more responsibilities without a title change or increased pay.

We also discovered that having a female mentor played a pivotal role in the professional development of many women in STEM: 31% who had this benefit reported receiving a promotion in the last year. Comparatively, only 21% of their peers without such guidance said the same. Beyond upward role changes, those with a female mentor experienced an average 8% salary increase at their last raise, marginally eclipsing the 7% increase for those without.

In addition, 61% of women with a female mentor got a pay raise in the past year compared to 53% of those without. These findings highlight the tangible benefits of female mentorship for supporting growth and opportunity.

Gendered Office Occurrences

Next, we wanted to look at gender-based discrimination and bias women experienced during their daily interactions at work.

Workplace experiences of women in STEM
The day-to-day experiences of women in STEM have their challenges and triumphs. Although managers commonly respected and recognized 66% of our respondents, only 56% of women in STEM felt their opinions were valued in the workplace. Even fewer said their peers took them seriously (54%), people respected their expertise (50%), and they were critiqued fairly (47%). These figures show concerning workplace dynamics, suggesting a need for more inclusive and respectful professional environments.

To make matters worse, 53% of these women reported that their abilities have been underestimated at work. Being talked over in meetings (40%), experiencing mansplaining (39%), and receiving comments on their physical appearance (38%) were other prevalent issues. Nearly 1 in 5 women had even been told to smile.

Women working remotely (20%) reported the fewest negative workplace experiences, contrasting with in-person (14%) and hybrid (13%) female workers. Moreover, the sense of being disrespected, undervalued, or not taken seriously was notably higher in in-person environments (13%) compared to hybrid (6%) or remote (5%) ones. This data suggests that remote and hybrid work models may offer more equitable environments for women in STEM, with flexible work arrangements potentially fostering a more inclusive and respectful professional landscape.

Balancing Acts

Next, we talked to women in STEM about how they were juggling their personal lives and work schedules.

Work life balance of women in STEM
Although other research has found that STEM jobs provide work-life balance and a good paycheck, this may not be entirely true for many women. We discovered that three-quarters of women in STEM have clocked overtime in the past year, yet only 36% were compensated for the extra hours. This suggests that work-life balance in a STEM career may be challenging for some women to obtain.

But work-life imbalances didn’t disproportionately affect the mothers we surveyed. Although just half of them reported a good work-life balance, that was only slightly fewer than women without children (54%). And family obligations conflicted with professional commitments for many respondents, regardless of parenthood status: 37% have had to miss work for a family event. Conversely, nearly as many (38%) had missed a family event to fulfill work commitments.

These figures reveal the tightrope walk that women in STEM perform in balancing career demands with family time. Despite this, nearly all the women we surveyed (97%) reported regularly feeling productive at work. But this wasn’t without its downsides. Many women in STEM also said they feel:

  • Stressed (85%)
  • Anxious (75%)
  • Burned out (56%)

While STEM fields can provide fulfilling careers for women, these findings indicate workplace environments that often push their limits. But things may be improving.

Evolution of Equality

We concluded our study with a look into how gender equality in the workplace has changed throughout time and how it can improve in the future.

Evolution of gender equality in STEM fields
Reflecting on the evolution of gender equality in the workplace, 65% of women in STEM across generations said they’ve seen improvements since they began their careers. However, they also shared their visions for further progress.

The most desired change was salary transparency, with 68% advocating for more openness about pay. The U.S. is already working toward this, with some states having already enacted pay transparency laws. Similarly, many also called for more transparency in advancement criteria (53%), highlighting a quest for fairness and clarity in how women can progress in their STEM careers.

Having more women in leadership roles was another top wish, with 61% emphasizing the need for more female representation at the top. Others wanted more flexible schedules (51%), which can help align workers’ professional lives with their personal needs.

We also found that the most desired STEM workplace improvements varied by generation:

Gen X

  1. More flexible schedules
  2. Salary transparency
  3. Advancement criteria transparency


  1. Salary transparency
  2. More women in leadership
  3. Advancement criteria transparency

Gen Z

  1. Salary transparency
  2. More women in leadership
  3. Support for women returning to the workforce

While gender equality has improved within STEM fields over the years, women’s vision for the future clearly calls for greater transparency in salaries and promotions, alongside more female leaders.

Women’s Futures in STEM

From the disparities in raises and promotions to the crucial role of female mentorship, the journey towards gender equality in STEM is ongoing. While most women feel respected at work and salary transparency has improved, many issues persist for them, such as work-life imbalance, underestimation of their abilities, and lack of adequate recognition for their accomplishments. Remote work could offer more equitable environments, but the need for more inclusive, supportive, and flexible workplace cultures is clear.

Organizations should strive to implement policies that address these disparities, foster mentorship programs, and create work environments that make women feel valued and supported.


We surveyed 600 women from around the world currently working in a STEM field. Among them, 10% were Gen X or older, 55% were millennials, and 35% were Gen Z. Regarding mentorship, 35% had a female mentor, and 65% did not.

About MyBioSource

With over 60% of our employees being women, MyBioSourceis commited to diversity in STEM. We’re also commting to providing top-quality biological reagents globally, catering to researchers and scientists with products including monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies, recombinant proteins, and ELISA kits.

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