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STEM Entrepreneurship: Are Women on a Level Playing Field?

Release Date: 
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - 12:00am
Release Number: 
Elle Patout


STEM Entrepreneurship:  Are Women on a Level Playing Field?

Office of Advocacy report identifies gender differences in STEM entrepreneurship and strives to find avenues for improvement. 

WASHINGTON – 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 differences 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. 



The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent voice for small business within the federal government. The presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed Chief Counsel for Advocacy advances the views, concerns and interests of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts and policymakers. Regional advocates and an office in Washington, D.C., support the Chief Counsel’s efforts. For more information, visit, call (202) 205-6533 or get updates on Twitter (@AdvocacySBA) or Facebook at