The State of STEM Education Told Through 12 Stats

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If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times—by the end of 2018, 2.4 million STEM jobs were projected to go unfilled. While we are still waiting on updated figures for 2019 and beyond, the statement is still powerful.

Even if you’ve heard it before, think about what it really means.

When something goes “unfilled” or is left vacant, why is that?

A winter flight to Fairbanks, Alaska might go unfilled—but that’s because there isn’t much interest in traveling to the coldest place in the country at the most frigid time of year.

With STEM jobs though, we are talking about, well, jobs. Money. A living. There is no shortage of people who need jobs to make money and earn a living.

So maybe we just don’t need STEM?

No, that’s not it—you can imagine the impact of STEM on the economy just by looking at the companies and products revolutionizing our lives. Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and on and on. STEM powers all of them.

Perhaps there isn’t any interest in working in STEM?

The stats below will tell you that isn’t the case. Plus, going back to the aforementioned companies, you don’t need stats to know that those are highly-coveted employers. Not to mention the sheer breadth of everything STEM touches. If you have an interest in something, anything, there is a STEM job counterpart.

Generally, this is an obvious issue of supply and demand, right?
But the difference here is that demand is lacking not because there isn’t interest or understood importance of STEM, but because people just aren’t fit to fill such openings.

When you take that a level deeper, people aren’t suited with the skills required of STEM jobs because STEM education isn’t a readily-available opportunity for many. Nor is it something being ingrained or even presented early enough - or often enough - in a child’s life.

It’s an issue that affects all far and wide, but the problems in STEM education are especially profound for women and minorities.

Here is a list of STEM statistics that tell a story.

STEM Education Stats

Here is a quick look at a few of the more popular STEM stats, with details below.

STEM Job Growth

1. STEM jobs are projected to grow 13%.
Between 2017 and 2027, the number of STEM jobs will grow 13 percent, compared to 9 percent for non-STEM jobs—with positions in computing, engineering, and advanced manufacturing leading the way. (Via Change the Equation)  

Overall, since 1990, employment in STEM occupations has grown 79%—increasing from 9.7 million to 17.3 million. (Via Pew Research Center)

STEM Stats Median Hourly

2. The average median hourly wage for STEM jobs is $38.85.
Compared to the median earning for all other types of jobs in the US - $19.30 - STEM-related jobs pay exceptionally well. (Via Change the Equation)

STEM Wages National

3. Out of 100 STEM occupations, 93% of them had wages above the national average.
The national average for STEM job annual salaries is $87,570, where the national average for non-STEM occupations sits at roughly half—$45,700. (Via the Bureau of Labor Statistics)

So, there IS Increasing demand for STEM jobs...

US Math & Science

4. The US placed 38th of 71 countries in math, and 24th in science.
This is according to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)—which is regarded as one of the biggest cross-national tests of its kind. (Via the Pew Research Center; Pew also just published these 7 facts about the STEM workforce on 1/9/18)

OECD Member Rankings

5. Of 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US ranks 30th in math and 19th in science.
(Via the Pew Research Center)

High School Grad Readiness

6. Only 36% of all high school grads are ready to take a college-level science course.
(Via the National Math & Science Initiative)

7. US universities are expected to produce only 29% of the required number of grads.
That is, to fill the 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. (Projected by the US Department of Labor)

But it seems the education system isn't producing candidates...

8. 74% of middle school girls express an interest in engineering, science, and math...
But only 0.3% choose computer science as a major when they get to college. (Via

Women Comp Sci

9. Women make up only 18% of computer science undergrads.
Even though women earn 57% of all bachelor’s degrees, only 18% of undergrad computer science degrees go to females (According to the National Center for Education Statistics)

Girls Interest STEM

10. Girls’ interest in STEM peaks in middle school, but drops off in high school.
A Microsoft survey conducted in Europe found that girls gain interest in STEM at age 11, but then lose that interest at age 15 (Via Microsoft). The combination of social factors and lack of access can be understood as culprits.

Thus, women are vastly underrepresented in STEM...

11. “African-American and Latino workers also now represent 29 percent of the general workforce population (up from about 24 percent in 2001)...
But just 16 percent of the advanced manufacturing workforce, 15 percent of the computing workforce and 12 percent of the engineering workforce.” (US News, 2015)

12. Minority women participation in STEM at the collegiate level:
Engineering, 3.1%; Physical Sciences, 6.5%, Mathematics, 5.4%, Computer Science, 4.8%. (Via the National Girls Collaborative Project)

And, many minorities are also underrepresented, with a number of reports and quotes on the percentages of minorities in STEM.

So where does that leave us?

First of all, there are hundreds of stats and related studies. Some are old, others newer. Overall, though, these themes hold true.
STEM is important. STEM is an economic driver. STEM presents opportunity. There needs to be way more people ready to meet such opportunity.

The fix, of course, is not easy. I’m not the first to talk about it, nor will I be the last. There are many people talking about it, and others working to do something about it.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the fact that we sell summer STEM camps; programs that aren’t inexpensive at that, due to our prestigious university locations, world-class staff, and premium tech tools we feature. To better serve a wider breadth of families, we reserve 10%, or 7,000 of our seats for underprivileged students.

To end, and not to oversimplify it, STEM needs to be where the kids are. In school, after-school; during the summer, and in our local communities, introduced at a young age when they are most curious. Kids need STEM mentors and role models to look up to. They need more education about STEM degrees and related jobs so they can look forward to bright futures in these fields.

STEM needs to be the sport your child is playing, the show they are watching, and the hero they are emulating. It’s not that kids don’t have the time or capacity to “fit in” STEM, but rather that time needs to be reshaped to include STEM.

A photo of Ryan

Ryan manages blog content at iD Tech, starting with the company in 2008. He earned his MBA from Santa Clara University after obtaining his Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State. Connect on LinkedIn!

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