Emerging Careers for Women in 2014
Today’s world is changing more rapidly than ever before and this change is only naturally being reflected in the professional world, with new career opportunities emerging constantly and new industries spearheading the economy. It is hardly surprising that information technology is the sector that drives most new trends as it penetrates more and more other industries and sprouts numerous employment opportunities, for women as well as for men. The demand for quality professionals in fields like health care, science and technology is increasing along with that in sectors like computer game design and business analytics, not to mention the booming development of social media which has led to unparalleled demand for writers, copywriters, strategists and public relations professionals, as author Terri Williams notes in an article for digital magazine The Nest. Although many of these occupations are part-time, there is hunger for writing talent and they are well paid, she notes.
Such a development is easy to understand. Digital content in all shapes and forms is the coming thing and it is unlikely that the trend will be reversed anytime soon. Coupled with major outsourcing trends that were made possible by the growing digitalization of business, the digital channels are turning into one of the biggest sources of employment. One industry that is in a perfect position to exploit the vast array of opportunities the digital world provides is marketing and advertising. Advertisers around the world are increasing their spend on digital and they are also getting more confident about tapping the potential of content marketing which requires qualified copywriters, authors and editors, and America is once again leading the way. The “U.S. Digital Marketing Spending Report, 2013” by technology research company Gartner projected last March that advertisers in the US will have outsourced around half of their digital marketing activities and that for every $1 billion in revenue, $25 million will have gone for digital marketing.
On a more general IT level, more and more businesses and government agencies are virtualizing their work and the amount of digital data pouring from all sides is doubling every year, according to estimates of the International Data Corp. This calls for more professionals to manage it and make sense of it as well as protect it from cyberattacks. What this means is that the demand for data scientists and business analysts will be growing steadily, with the number of jobs for data scientists alone projected to reach a global 4.4 million by the end of next year, Gartner says. Managing big data and daily operations in a virtual environment also needs to be secure. Speaking of cybersecurity, the Pentagon alone is planning to take on more than 4,000 additional cybersecurity experts between this year and 2016 to boost its Cyber Command. Increased demand for such specialists is also coming from health care, security services and the energy industry.
Speaking of health care and its related industries, biomedical engineering deserves a special mention as the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that demand for professionals there will rise by 62% from 2010 to 2020. Biomedical engineering is the field that provides such advancements as genetic engineering, artificial organs and bionics and its prominence will only continue to grow as technologies advance. Another field that is experiencing growing demand for professionals is forensic science. With the evolution of technology, crime investigation is relying on increasingly complex tools that need well prepared experts to operate them. Related to this is the biometric industry which is projected to grow to be a market worth $363 million by 2018 (US News and World Report, 2013), as biometric identification systems gradually replace print identity documents across the board. Another engineering area that provides good employment opportunities as a result of the development of shale oil and gas extraction is petroleum engineering. Some 50% of the current workforce in the field will be retiring in the next ten years so the industry needs fresh additions. Still staying in the engineering area, robotics will be yet another industry that is already creating a lot of new jobs. As robots start penetrating more and more areas of our everyday life, more expertise will be needed to improve and expand their applications. Robots are used in a vast range of industries and sciences, from health care to space exploration, but they are also making inroads in typical everyday activities such as working itself — there are telepresence robots that can spare people the commute to the office, not to mention already established automated machines like ATMs or automated warehouses. All this requires software engineers, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers. The engineering field as a whole has been very welcoming to women, with 60% of the 39,000 new engineering hires in 2013 being of female professionals.
To go back to health care, the fields of home care, outpatient, laboratory and other ambulatory care services will see major growth in demand in the next few years as the population ages and the government strives to reduce healthcare costs. According to figures of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in home care services will expand by 59.7% (BLS, 2013), while the number of jobs in outpatient, laboratory and other ambulatory care services will increase by 45.4% by 2022. Another related field that will require more employees is the office of health care practitioners, again because of the aging population and the Affordable Care Act that will encourage previously uninsured people to seek health care services more readily. Public health services will also hire more actively as prevention gains more importance and the threat of epidemics becomes more pronounced.
Moving away from this industry and into the world of computers, game designers are shaping up to be very sought after this year and in the next few. With a global market for video and online gaming set to reach $82.4 million by the end of next year (US News and World Report, 2013), game designers will be very much in demand. The skills needed for video game design, such as programming, animation and audio design, can also open the doors to other computer-related careers, such as designing simulated environments for training purposes or software engineering for a wide range of industries. The huge demand for IT professionals in a variety of fields is particularly relevant when talking about women’s employment as it is one area where they are massively underrepresented. A survey by non-profit organization Catalyst reveals that the number of women employed in the technology sector in the United States is a meagre 5.7% of the total. The numbers are even lower for women with college degrees in computer sciences and IT, at 1.5%, compared with 4% for men. This could be attributed to traditional stereotypes and to the relatively, but only relatively, bigger success women have in different fields of knowledge. Still, whatever the reasons, the fact is that the IT industry is hungry for talent and the same goes for the more general science field. It is optimistic that the overall number of women working in the area of computer system design and related services has grown significantly in the ten years between 2003 and 2013 (BLS, 2013), nearing 550,000, but greater encouragement is still needed to make IT a desirable career path for women.
Looking at the broad work landscape, it seems that the biggest and best career opportunities this year are in the area of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the so-called STEM. Women have been traditionally underrepresented in this area due to factors already mentioned as well as cultural expectations and individual priorities. It is good to know, however, that studies have shown females to be no worse than males at these subjects in school (Riegle-Crumb et al., 2012). As to the reason why high female achievers in math and sciences rarely choose a career in these fields, it remains unclear, but, says Riegle-Crumb, the important thing to consider is that “Females are making a choice for something, not just against STEM majors and professions.”
Still, as the review of industries above reveals, workforce demand is currently greatest in exactly the area of STEM. The labor market, like any other market, is driven by supply and demand. The industries discussed here represent parts of the market where demand is growing faster than supply and as such are the perfect opportunity for women looking for a meaningful, rewarding career. Although some of those career paths sound like typically male occupations, it is time to cast aside long-held stereotypes and embrace a new world of opportunities. It should also be noted that aside from the academic background most jobs now in demand require, there are also sets of skills relevant to the industry that a successful career woman would have. In most cases these skill sets include soft skills such as communicativeness and empathy, both traditionally associated with women. At the same time, women have proven time and again that they are in no way short of analytical and problem-solving qualities and this puts them in a favorable position in the labor market. An important factor to note is the growing variety of relevant training and education programs and courses that can support an ambition-driven career change.
1. Williams, Terri. “Top Emerging Careers”. The Nest. http://woman.thenest.com/top-emerging-careers-14280.html
2. Puri, Ritika. “More opportunities emerging for female IT leaders”. Tech Page One, January 2014. http://techpageone.dell.com/business/opportunities-emerging-female-leaders/
3. Bonar, Samantha. “Study: Women Don’t Choose STEM Careers Despite Their Skills.” Tech Page One, May 2013. http://techpageone.dell.com/business/study-women-stem-careers/#.UtPauifXuHt
4. Riegle-Crumb, Catherine, King, Barbara, Grodsky, Eric, Muller, Chandra. “The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same? Prior Achievement Fails to Explain Gender Inequality in Entry Into STEM College Majors Over Time”. American Educational Research Journal, February 2012. http://aer.sagepub.com/content/49/6/1048.abstract
5. Catalyst. “Women in High Tech, Globally”. March 2013 http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-high-tech-globally
6. Gandel, Cathie. “Discover 11 Hot College Majors That Lead to Jobs”. US News and World Report, Septepber 2013. http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2013/09/10/discover-11-hot-college-majors-that-lead-to-jobs
7. Nisen, Max. “10 American Industries That Are Going To Boom In The Next Decade”. Business Insider, December 2013. http://www.businessinsider.com/booming-industries-for-the-next-decade-2013-12
8. “Monthly Labor Review”, Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2013. http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2013/article/industry-employment-and-output-projections-to-2022-1.htm
9. “Employment, Hours and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (National)”. Bureau of Labor Statistics. January 2013. http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES6054150010
10. “Women in Tech”. Dice, 2013 http://media.dice.com/report/women-fill-more-tech-jobs-in-2013/
11. “U.S. Digital Marketing Spending Report, 2013”. Gartner, March 2013. http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/digital-marketing/digital-marketing-spend.jsp