Stem Information

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
“It is time to restore science to its rightful place and...to wield technology's wonders to meet the demands of a new age.” -- President Obama

In a global economy, American students will need a very strong foundation in STEM if they are going to be able to compete with people across the world for jobs.

The Growth of STEM Jobs 1

  • There were 7.6 Million U.S.STEM workers in 2010.
  • STEM fields will grow 17.5% from 2008-2018.
  • Average growth of Non-STEM positions will be 9.8, from 2008-2018.
Click to see a larger image. Thumbnail image of projected occupations to 2018 for STEM jobs Projected Occupations to 2018 for STEM jobs
  • As the graph shows, the biggest gains appear to be in computer-related fields. A recent article from Information Week reported that the top job for 2012 is “Software Engineering” in terms of salary, stress levels, hiring outlook, physical demands, and work environment.
  • This is not good news for girls because, as we see below, Computer Science is the one area losing the most in term of interest by girls and women.

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Women & STEM

  • Women are approximately ½ of the total U.S. college educated workforce, but only 26% of them are in STEM occupations. 2 The graph below contains data on the number of women in selected occupations in 2008.
Click to see a larger image. Thumbnail image of Women in STEM Occupations Women in STEM Occupations
  • Women have made some gains, such as in the Biological Sciences, but not in those for which growth is projected to be the greatest, for example, Computer science.
  • Computer Science jobs held by women have actually decreased to 24% in 2008, down from 36% in 1991.3
  • The jobs will be there, but few women may hold them based on the types of degrees earned by them. The table below shows the data for 2007.
Bachelor's Degrees Earned in Science & Engineering Fields, by Gender, 2007 4
Type of Degree Number Earned by Women Number Earned by Men
Biological Science 48,001 31,347
Agricultural Sciences 8,915 8,781
Computer Sciences 7,944 34,652
Mathematics & Statistics 6,827 8,724
Chemistry 5,614 5,636
Civil Engineering 2,499 8,819
Electrical Engineering 2,109 16,438
Mechanical Engineering 2,017 14,894
Chemical Engineering 1,743 3,338
Earth, Atmospheric, & Ocean Sciences 1,678 2,399
Physics 1,024 3,846
  • While an equal number of boys and girls take math and science courses in high school, a fewer percentage of women pursue degrees in those areas in college. By the time they graduate from college, men outnumber women in every STEM field. The situation gets worse at the graduate and post-graduate levels. 5

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Negative Stereotypes Play a Significant Role
Abilities of girls and boys in science and math throughout K-12 grades have no significant differences.6
Social and environmental influences are most likely the cause of differences in STEM achievement between girls and boys.7
By the time girls are 11 years old they believe boys are better at math than girls.8
We need to advance gender sensitivity among educators and parents!
Confidence is a Big Factor in Success
If girls don't believe the are capable, they are unlikely to succeed.
Providing girls with opportunities to succeed in friendly environments is likely to increase confidence.
It is important to spark and strengthen interest and confidence in STEM....BEFORE girls reach High-School.
Role Models Help Debunk the Myth that Girls can't be Engineers or Scientists
Unfortunately, the low number of women in STEM contributes to a serious shortage of role models and mentors for girls and women in STEM.9

Thumbnail image of Lack of Role Models in STEM Chart Lack of Role Models in STEM Chart
The graph above demonstrates a peculiar trend among private sector women in Science, Engineering, and Technology: that while almost half reported that they lacked mentors, 86% reported they had no sponsors. This means that a very large number of those who do have mentors, have mentors that do nothing to promote their mentees. So the issue seems more about finding the right mentor who will actually do something concrete for their mentees.
Role models help girls become aware of the many contributions made by women in STEM fields. This, in turn, means they are more likely to believe they can do it too.
Taking the time to find good mentors and providing girls with opportunities to meet the right female engineers and scientists and to see these women performing their jobs is a powerful way to debunk the myth.

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Footnotes:

  1. DuBois, S.(2011). “America's science job conundrum”.Fortune Magazine, July 15, 2011. Retrieved from: Fortune Magazine   back to article^
  2. National Science Board(NSB),2010. Retrieved from: The SciGirls Seven: Proven Strategies for Engaging Girls in STEM. back to article
  3. Ashcraft, C. and Blithe, S.(2010).“Women in IT:The Facts”. NCWIT, National Center for Women in Technology. Retrieved from: ncwit.org   back to article
  4. U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics.(2009).“Women in the labor force: A databook”(Report 1018, Table11). Retrieved from: The SciGirls Seven: Proven Strategies for Engaging Girls in STEM. back to article
  5. Hill, C., Corbett, C., and St. Rose, A.(2010).“Why so few?”AAUW, American Association of University Women,Washington D.C. back to article
  6. Hill, C., Corbett, C., and St. Rose, A.(2010).“Why so few?”AAUW, American Association of University Women,Washington D.C. back to article
  7. Hill, C., Corbett, C., and St. Rose, A.(2010).“Why so few?”AAUW, American Association of University Women,Washington D.C.back to article
  8. Ambady, Shih, Kim, & Pittinsky, “Stereotype Susceptibility in Children:Effects of Identity Activation on Quantitative Performance”, Psychological Science (2001), Vol.12, No.5. pp.385-390. back to article
  9. Hewlett, S.A., Luce, C.B. Servon,L.J. Sherbin,L., Shiller,P., Sosnovich,E., and Sumberg, K. “The Athena Factor: Reversing the Brain Drain in Science, Engineering, and Technology” Center for Work-Life Policy (New York, NY, USA). back to article

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