STEM

Report: Despite Equity Initiatives, STEM Gaps Persist

Despite a multitude of public and private initiatives to increase STEM equity, gender and racial gaps in STEM fields persist, according to a new STEM Index from U.S. News and World Report and Raytheon.

Measuring "key indicators of economic- and education-related STEM activity in the United States since the year 2000," according to a news release, the latest edition of the index finds that employment and degrees granted have improved but "gaps between men and women and between whites and minorities in STEM remain deeply entrenched."

Key findings of the report include:

  • Girls in high school report being less interested in science, technology engineering and math fields than their male peers, with only 3 percent reporting an interest in engineering and only 2 percent saying they're interested in technology, compared to 31 and 15 percent, respectively, among boys;
  • Female students scored lower than their male counterparts on all Advanced Placement tests in STEM fields and males of all demographics outperformed girls by an average of at least 30 points on the math section of the SATs;
  • More women earned STEM degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels, "but they kept pace — rather than catching up — with their male counterparts," according to a news release;
  • 6 percent of associate's degrees and 13 percent of bachelor's degrees granted to women in 2014 were in STEM fields, compared to 20 and 28 percent, respectively, to male students;
  • Among graduate students, 10 percent of degrees awarded to women were in STEM fields while 24 percent of degrees given to male students were in STEM fields;
  • Black students scored an average of 105 points lower than white students and 169 points lower than Asian students on the math portion of the SATs in 2014; and
  • The share of bachelor's degrees awarded to white students that were in STEM fields grew every year from 2009-2014, rising from 16.8 percent to 19.5 percent. Over the same period the share of degrees in a STEM field granted to black students grew, but more slowly, from 12.7 percent to 13.6.

"Over the last decade, there has been significant national interest in improving STEM employment and education," said Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News, in a prepared statement. "The U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index allows us to chart our progress — or lack thereof. It's clear that we need to focus our efforts on engaging the majority of the future labor pool — young women, Latinos and African-Americans — in STEM."

"Clearly, we need to do more to make diversity a priority in science, technology, engineering and math fields to keep the United States competitive and the economy growing," added Mark E. Russell, vice president of engineering, technology and mission assurance for Raytheon Company.

More information is available at usnews.com.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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