As the Semiconductor Industry Workforce Booms, Employers Must Prioritize Gender Equity


In the dynamic world of technology, where innovation is the key to progress, the semiconductor industry has emerged as a beacon of opportunity for engineers across the globe. The promise of investment from the federal CHIPS and Science Act, signed into law in 2022, has been a catalyst for increasing the number of women engineers in the U.S., but there is still much more work to be done.

Following the passage of that 2022 law, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urged colleges and universities to triple the number of graduates in semiconductor-related fields, like engineering, and to expand recruitment pipelines for more underserved populations, including women, due to the urgent need for microchips and the current industry-wide labor shortage.

This wave of investment will propel domestic semiconductor manufacturing to create unprecedented opportunities for the workforce of the future – one that is representative of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Yet we can’t rely on incremental changes if we want to see women’s representation in engineering reach gender parity. Raimondo noted that “supporting women in tech is a priority for me and the Commerce Department, because the truth is that if we don’t invest in women’s success in the economy, our economy will never reach its full potential.”

This Women’s History Month, the Society of Women Engineers couldn’t agree more.

As recently as 2022, the Global Semiconductor Alliance found that women comprised between 10% and 15% of the semiconductor engineering workforce, highlighting the urgent need to improve gender diversity within engineering and technology. Jodi Shelton, founder and CEO of the GSA, which represents more than 100 major companies in the industry, has highlighted, “If we are going to become a trillion-dollar industry, we cannot ignore half the population.”

Semiconductor manufacturing will require a workforce at scale to secure American leadership in the global technology race in the semiconductor industry, and we are already seeing progress across the federal government to increase the number of women engineers in this space through the allocation of money to research and development programs. To date, more than 50 community colleges across 19 states have announced new or expanded programming to support semiconductor industry opportunities and build the skilled workforce required to build and work in memory chip fabrication facilities, also known as fabs. As part of the CHIPS and Science Act, the Biden-Harris administration unveiled the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy, which addresses short- and long-term cyber workforce needs.

Through this initiative, the Office of the National Cyber Director partners with organizations to grow and enhance the cyber workforce by improving its diversity and inclusion. This strategy prioritizes investing in women’s success, increasing the pool of highly skilled workers and maintaining our nation’s global competitiveness in STEM innovation.

Forward-thinking businesses are already building on these investments and making their own, large-scale commitments to build a diverse workforce. For example, Micron Technology, the only U.S. manufacturer of memory – which powers AI and other emerging technologies – promotes STEM inclusivity from K-12 through higher education, recognizing that a diverse workforce is essential for an innovative scientific ecosystem. Through a variety of effective workforce development pathways, such as Girls Going Tech and Global Women’s Mentorship Program, Micron invests in programs to empower girls and young women in STEM to feed the early talent pipeline for the semiconductor industry. This, in turn, contributes to the growth and competitiveness of the U.S. economy.

GlobalFoundries has placed a similar emphasis on supporting women colleagues through GlobalWomen. The alliance of women and allies’ mission is to institute a framework for the professional development of women at the company. Women currently represent a quarter of the global workforce of 13,000 at GlobalFoundries.

But the impact of these improvements within the semiconductor industry goes beyond just increasing the number of women engineers; it sets a powerful example for other technology sectors to follow. We know that lip service paid toward these goals will not be enough. Investments from both the federal and private sectors are needed to fuel the programs at all levels of education to encourage more women to participate. By recognizing the untapped potential of women engineers and investing in their growth and development, companies in the semiconductor space can pave the way for a more diverse and skilled workforce across all STEM fields.

It’s crucial to remember that these successes can only reach their full potential with a continued commitment to diversity and inclusion. The public and private sectors must work together to empower women in STEM to demonstrate the full potential of our workforce and economy.

We call upon all companies and government agencies to sustain and expand their commitments to programs that champion women in STEM fields. The CHIPS and Science Act has already shown us the promise and transformative power of these efforts – and now it’s time to build on this momentum. Together, we can build a world where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive and contribute to the advancement of technology.


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