STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is one of the fastest-growing areas of our economy. But the U.S. education system struggles to keep up with the demand for new skills and technologies.
STEM education is a rare issue that unites people from both sides of the political aisle. It’s an issue that affects all Americans, but the challenges in STEM education are especially profound for women and minorities. Here are 10 statistics that tell the story.
There’s a rising demand for STEM job candidates
1. 17% growth in demand for STEM jobs.
Between 2014 and 2024, the number of STEM jobs will grow 17 percent, as compared with 12 percent for non-STEM jobs.
2. The average median hourly wage for STEM jobs is $37.44.
Compared to the median for all other types of jobs in the US, $18.68, STEM-related jobs pay exceptionally well.
But the U.S. education system produces a shortage of qualified candidates
3. Compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. ranks 27th in math.
The U.S. has fallen behind the rest of the world at an alarming rate. U.S. students recently finished 27th in math and 20th in science in the ranking of 34 countries.
4. Only 36% of all high school grads are ready to take a college-level science course.
5. In 2020, there will be an estimated 1.4 million computer specialist job openings.
Unfortunately, U.S. universities are expected produce only enough qualified graduates to fill 29% of these jobs.
U.S. Department of Labor
Women are vastly underrepresented in STEM education and jobs
6. When choosing a college major, 0.4% of high school girls select computer science.
Contrast this to the fact that in middle school, 74% of girls express interest in STEM courses.
7. Women earned only 17% of computer and information sciences bachelor’s degrees in 2014.
Compare this to 1985, when 37% of computer science bachelors were awarded to women. This is especially concerning because women have made incredible gains in other areas. In 2014, 57% of bachelor’s degree recipients were women.
8. 25% of professional computing occupations in the U.S. workforce were held by women in 2015.
Compare that to women’s share of the overall workforce, 47%.
Many minorities are also underrepresented
9. Underrepresented minorities earn only 11% of all engineering degrees.
Underrepresented minorities (African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans) make up 35% of the college-age population, but only 11% of engineering degrees.
10. White and Asian workers make up 88% of all science and engineering jobs.
The chart below shows scientists and engineering occupations in 2013:
The challenges facing the U.S. education system are clear. Fortunately, there has been signs of progress on the federal level, including the Every Child Achieves Act passed last year, which includes many STEM education provisions.
President Obama has made the issue a priority as well, declaring, “Improvements in STEM education will happen only if Hispanics, African-Americans, and other underrepresented groups in the STEM fields—including women, people with disabilities, and first-generation Americans—robustly engage and are supported in learning and teaching in these areas.”
Stay tuned for more articles exploring STEM education!
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