Women Made Up Over a Quarter of All Business R&D Employees in 2020
Share of women in the U.S. business R&D workforce, by selected industry: 2020
|Industry and NAICS code||Percent|
|Pharmaceuticals and medicines, NAICS 3254||51|
|Scientific research and development services, NAICS 5417||50|
|Chemicals other than pharmaceuticals, NAICS 325 less 3254||34|
|All R&D industries, NAICS 21–23, 31–33, 42–81||27|
|Information, NAICS 51||25|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services other than R&D, NAICS 54 less 5417||24|
|Computer and electronic products, NAICS 334||19|
|Transportation equipment, NAICS 336||17|
|Machinery, NAICS 333||14|
NAICS = 2017 North American Industry Classification System.
National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics and Census Bureau, Business Enterprise Research and Development Survey, 2020.
According to the 2020 Business Enterprise Research and Development Survey, 27% of U.S. business R&D employees were women. For all manufacturing subsectors and nonmanufacturing sectors with at least 100,000 R&D workers, the female share of R&D employment ranged from 14% to 47%. Women represented about half of all R&D employees in just two detailed industry groups that meet this employment threshold: pharmaceuticals and medicines (NAICS 3254, 51%) and scientific research and development services (NAICS 5417, 50%). Machinery (NAICS 333) and transportation equipment manufacturing (NAICS 336) had the two lowest shares of female R&D employees in this group of industries. Women made up about a quarter of the R&D employees in the information sector (NAICS 51) and in the professional, scientific, and technical services other than R&D sector (NAICS 54 less 5417).
Recent data show similar variation by field for degrees awarded to women in 2020 (NSF 23-315, figure 7-3). Women were awarded over 50% of the bachelor’s (64%), master’s (62%), and doctoral (53%) life sciences degrees. In contrast, women were underrepresented for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in engineering (24%, 27%, and 25%, respectively), mathematical and computer sciences (26%, 35%, and 26%, respectively), and physical and earth sciences (43%, 38%, and 34%, respectively).
Suggested Citation: Anderson G, Shackelford B; National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). 2023. Women Made Up Over a Quarter of All Business R&D Employees in 2020. NSF 23-328. Alexandria, VA: National Science Foundation. Available at https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf23328/.
March 20, 2023