ROANOKE CO., Va. (WDBJ7) Women make up nearly half the American workforce: 48 percent. But when it comes to STEM professions, science, technology, engineering, and math, that number is cut in half to 24 percent. But one place in Roanoke County is reversing that statistic.
Wendy Gibson says a lot has changed since she entered ballistics and toolmarks analysis. Not only the technology they use, but the people doing the work.
"I moved out here in 2011. So I was the first female in this area that did firearms, ever, in the history of DFS," Gibson said. "Now out of 12 -- there [are] nine females and three men so it's definitely switched."
Gibson is not alone. The women in this lab say they're seeing more and more female counterparts enter the field.
"You see it whenever we go to our annual conferences. It is a lot more female-dominated. you still have the older, male generation, but a lot to the newcomers are majority female," Laura Hollenbeck, a forensic scientist, said.
It's a trend, women say, that they don't see slowing down.
"It's growing. We're going to make our make somewhere, so why not here?" Hollenbeck said.
Studies have shown that women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in other fields. and that they experience a smaller wage gap relative to men.