If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times—millions of STEM jobs are projected to go unfilled in the near future. In fact, it's estimated that 3.5 million jobs will need to be filled by 2025.
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 their livings.
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 readily available for many. Nor is it something being ingrained or even presented early enough - or often enough - in the lives of today's children.
It’s an issue that affects all far and wide, but the problems in STEM education are especially profound for women and people of color.
Here is a list of STEM statistics that tell a story.
STEM education stats
Below is a quick look at a few of the more popular STEM statistics, with details below each.
1. STEM jobs are projected to grow 8.8%.
Between 2017 and 2029, the number of STEM jobs will grow 8 percent, a higher rate than non-STEM jobs—with positions in computing, engineering, and advanced manufacturing leading the way. (Via the US Department of Labor)
2. Specifically, software development employment is projected to grow 22%.
Regarding the job outlook from 2019-2029, employment in software development is projected for 22% growth. (Via the US Department of Labor)
3. Employment in STEM occupations has grown 79% since 1990.
Overall, since 1990, employment in STEM occupations has grown 79%—increasing from 9.7 million to 17.3 million. (Via American Affairs)
4. The average median hourly wage for STEM jobs is $38.85.
Compared to the median earnings for all other types of jobs in the US - $19.30 - STEM-related jobs pay exceptionally well. (Via the Education Commission of the States)
This is well over double that of non-STEM occupations, where the median annual wage came in at $$40,020. (Via the Bureau of Labor Statistics)
6. The US placed 30th of 64 countries in math, and 11th 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 US World News Report)
7. Only 20% of US high school graduates are prepared for college-level coursework in STEM majors.
According to a White House report, 20% of high school grads are ready for the rigors of STEM majors. In fact, over the past 15 years, this report also found that the US has only produced 10% of the world's science and engineering grads. (Via American Affairs).
8. 74% of middle school girls express an interest in engineering, science, and math...
But only 0.4% choose computer science as a major when they get to college. (Reported by girlswhocode.org and mentioned by the National Girls Collaborative Project)
9. 2 out of 3 US women say they were not encouraged to pursue a career in STEM. Just 31% of women with a STEM bachelor’s degree go on to pursue a career in the field.
In the 2019 STEM survey by Emerson, it was stated that 2 of 3 US women said they weren't encouraged to pursue a STEM career, and this impacts even those who are highly qualified. (From Emerson.com and the Society of Women Engineers.)
Read More: The Benefits of Encouragement
10. Women make up only about 18% of computer science undergrads.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2026, computer science research jobs will grow 19%. However, only 18% of computer science bachelor's degrees in the US are earned by women (Via computerscience.org)
11. As of 2019, women comprise just 27% of the STEM workforce.
This is despite making up 50 percent of the total college-educated workforce. Translation? A shockingly low percentage of women are pursuing careers in these fields. (Via census.gov)
12. 63% of middle school girls who know women in STEM feel powerful doing STEM.
In comparison, 46% of middle school girls who don't personally know women in STEM feel powerful doing STEM. Similarly, 73% of those girls who personally know women in STEM understand the relevancy of STEM, and 72% know how to pursue a STEM career. This is compared to 51% and 47% of those who don't personally know women in STEM, respectively. (Via Microsoft and a study done in partnership with KRC research)
13. Moms who communicate on STEM leads to girls being +20 points more interested in pursuing their studies.
From the same study above, "Having an encouraging mom who communicates about STEM is associated with girls being an average +20 points more interested in all STEM subjects compared to those girls who do not." Having an encouraging teacher is associated with +21 points; having an encouraging dad is associated with +17 points.
14. 40% of black students switch out of STEM majors before earning a degree.
This is according to a study published in the journal, Education Researcher, and highlighted by the Education Advisory Board. There is a lot of work to be done in addressing this trend, and promoting diversity in STEM starts at the university and K-12 level.
15. Black workers make up 11% of the US workforce, but represent 9% of STEM workers.
This is in addition to Latino STEM workers, who make up 16% of the workforce, but only 7% of all STEM workers. And, of those employed adults who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, 7% are black workers and 6% are Hispanic workers of the STEM workforce." Plus, recent headlines have exposed Silicon Valley's diversity problem and how much work there is still to do to improve equity in tech. (Stats via Pew Research Center)
16. The Department of Education recently invested $540 million in STEM education.
The White House "Charting a Course for Success Report" identified a need to bolster support for STEM education at both the K-12 and collegiate level. These funds include efforts to recruit and train quality STEM teachers, increase diverse representation, and provide curriculum and materials for schools. (Via The Department of Education).
17. The US Bureau of Labor predicts 15% growth across healthcare professions by 2029.
STEM infuses virtually all aspects of the healthcare industry. By encouraging kids to pursue STEM, they’ll be prepared to find an exciting career within a wide range of options and increasing demand. (Via Bureau of Labor Statistics)
18. Fewer than half of the schools in the US offer computer science classes.
That's right—according to a 2020 study sponsored by Code.org, fewer than half of US schools offer computer science curriculum. That begs the question: are kids going to be ready to meet the evolving, growing landscape of STEM professions. (Via ESchool News)
19. Women comprise just 27% of STEM workers and 8% of computer network architects.
While this number is higher across other STEM professions, this low number sheds light on how much progress there still needs to be made in some of the fastest-growing STEM professions. (Via the US Census)
20. In the next 10 years, it’s estimated that there will be over 821,300 STEM job openings.
Those are hundreds of thousands of opportunities for young people! (Via SmartAsset)
21. Of the 13.1 million people employed science and engineering-oriented STEM professions, over 60% hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.
In order to have the most opportunities in STEM fields, a college degree can be a big help. Read more about how to prepare for STEM success in college and beyond. (Via National Science and Engineering Indicators)
22. According to a 2020 study, only 57% of US households with incomes lower than $25,000 have daily access to technology.
Especially when compared with 90% access for households with incomes over $200,000, it’s clear that gaping inequalities exist in access to STEM. (Via National Science and Engineering Indicators)
23. Despite representing 35% of college undergraduates, Black and Latino students represent just 25% of STEM degree earners.
Notably, this is not due to lack of interest: underrepresented minority students enroll in STEM college programs at the same rates as their peers, but they are more likely to change majors before graduation (Riegele-Crumb et al., 2019). (Via The National Science Board)
24. Currently, federal investment in diversifying STEM education and opportunity focuses on the college level and higher, with less funding dedicated to K-12 education.
This leaves a critical window of missed opportunity at the K-12 level. (Via The National Science Foundation).
25. Evidence suggests that by participating in STEM summer programs, underrepresented communities of students are more likely to graduate from high school, attend four-year colleges, and earn STEM degrees.
According to a recent study, students who participated in STEM summer programs boosted their chances of earning a STEM degree and graduating from high school. The most significant increase in STEM degree attainment, 33%, reflected the group who participated in the longest and most in-depth STEM summer program. The students who attained STEM degrees also increased their post-graduation earning potential by 2-6% (Via Cohodes et. al, 2022).
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. We need to prepare way more people 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 provide STEM summer camps; and relevant to today's world, online coding classes, and online math tutoring—programs and opportunities that aren’t inexpensive at that, due to our world-class staff, live instruction, and premium tech tools.
To better serve a wider breadth of families, we also provide these life-changing STEM experiences for underrepresented students through a number of social impact initiatives.
The bottom line is that 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.