The skills shortage in science and high-tech careers is continuing to grow. By 2028, an estimated 7 million science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs will be available, according to the labor market analysis firm EMSI, and the fear is that there won’t be sufficient skilled workers to fill them. We need more programmers, scientists, IT specialists, and engineers now. And with new technologies developing constantly, this demand will only increase over time.

Yet, even as employers bemoan the widening skills gap, they still neglect to tap into one of the most underappreciated pools of talent in the country: mothers.

Working mothers in all fields face daunting challenges, including lack of paid family leave, the cost of child care, a resume gap if they took time off, and workplace discrimination against parents (mothers in particular).

The “mommy tax” – the concept that working moms are punished for having children, while fathers are rewarded – is a real concern. Working mothers in the U.S. earn $0.71 to the dollar compared to working fathers, according to The National Women’s Law Center. This bias is often perpetuated because women with children are perceived to be less focused and driven at work, while men with children are more committed to their work as their family’s breadwinner.

And working mothers face an even more uphill battle when they are in traditionally male-dominated STEM industries. Women make up close to half the U.S. workforce, but they hold only 29% of STEM jobs.

So how can employers start to solve this complex problem? Companies need skilled technical talent to fill in-demand jobs, and working mothers need opportunities to enter STEM professions. To connect these dots and create a mutually beneficial solution, employers must expand their traditional hiring pool and seek to hire more women – mothers in particular. By offering them an onramp into technical careers through work-and-learn training programs, they can remove barriers that keep working moms out of STEM careers. And they can have access to a huge pipeline of exceptional talent, building their competitive advantage and receiving an immense return on their investment.

Learn more about York Solutions’ Barriers to Entry (B2E) returnship program.