The labor market has been kind to people with skills in fields like computer science and engineering. Computer and engineering jobs pay upwards of $85,000 a year, as well as offering job security. Computer jobs in particular are projected to grow by 19 percent between 2014 and 2024 — almost twice as fast as all other jobs.

Limited prospects

If you happen to be among the half of Americans who are female, however, your prospects for getting one of those jobs are dim. In 2015, women earned roughly one in five bachelor’s degrees in computer science and engineering. Those numbers spell trouble, not only for millions of interested women and girls, but also for a nation that needs all the STEM talent it can get.

"In 2015, women earned roughly one in five bachelor’s degrees in computer science and engineering."

Many companies in the United States address this urgent issue by supporting programs that get girls engaged in STEM, both in and out of schools. While this is good, remember to be careful because some programs claim — without evidence — to get girls hooked on STEM. More than ever before, companies are now only supporting programs that back up their claims with independent evaluations, strategic plans or vetted STEM content.

Employee investment

Businesses can also urge states to focus on quality in public spending on STEM programs. Some are already working with states in public and private partnerships to support strategies that promise the biggest return on their investment. If we are truly serious about attracting more girls and women in STEM, then every dollar must count.