Introduction to STEM Statistics

Science. Technology. Engineering. Math. STEM is the interactions between these topics that result in so much more than each part taken on its own. And more than just that, STEM is all the ways that these core disciplines are interacting with each other. It is a summation of what is happening in job fields across the board in this digital age. Whether it’s the way computers are improving how we do business or the way that we do education (looking at you, distance learning), STEM concepts are having an impact on each and every part of our lives.

When a concept has such a far reaching impact on our day to day lives, it is undeniably important to examine that impact. We’ve combed through the research on STEM in an attempt to better understand what STEM is, how it is impacting the world we live in right now, and what effect STEM will have on our future. 

To see some of what we’ve learned, check out the stats below.

STEM Fields Stats

This is a selection of statistics on the ways that STEM is impacting the global workforce as a whole. The general consensus? STEM jobs not only pay better than non-STEM jobs, but are also predicted to become increasingly important to the global economy over time. 

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics: (Occupational Employment and Wages Summary)

In the United States, STEM occupations had a higher average annual wage ($95,350) compared with non-STEM jobs ($50,600) as of May 2019.

From STEM Women: (Women in STEM | Percentages of Women in STEM Statistics)

From 2017, core STEM employment had increased by 6.3%, which equates to more than 6 times that of the total rise in the UK’s overall employment rate.

From Pew Research Center: (Pew Social Trends)

A typical STEM worker earns two-thirds more than those employed in other fields, according to Pew Research Center.

From the Toy Association: (STEM/STEAM Formula for Success)

A majority of parents —76 percent—want their child to end up in a STEM-related career.

From Mandlabs: (Current state of STEM education in the US: What needs to be done?)

By 2019 there will be a requirement of 1.9 million STEM educated professionals in the US, but roughly 40 percent of students, who intend to do a major in STEM, end up switching to other subjects.

From Emerson: Emerson’s 2018 Stem Survey Shows a Need for Stem Education | Emerson US

2 out of 5 Americans believe the STEM worker shortage is at crisis levels, according to results from the fourth annual STEM survey by Emerson.

Students today are twice as likely to study STEM fields compared to their parents, but the number of roles requiring STEM expertise is growing at a rate that exceeds current workforce capacity. 

In manufacturing alone, the National Association of Manufacturing and Deloitte predict the U.S. will need to fill about 3.5 million jobs by 2025; yet as many as 2 million of those jobs may go unfilled, due to difficulty finding people with the skills in demand. 

From Pew Research Center: (Diversity in the STEM workforce varies widely across jobs)

STEM workers enjoy a pay advantage compared with non-STEM workers with similar levels of education. Among those with some college education, the typical full-time, year-round STEM worker earns $54,745 while a similarly educated non-STEM worker earns $40,505, or 26% less.

While STEM workers tend to be highly educated, roughly a third have not completed a bachelor’s or higher-level degree.

Women in Stem Stats

These are statistics looking at women in STEM focused careers. Many studies, throughout the years, suggest that even though there is no significant difference in STEM focused abilities between men and women, women are far underrepresented in high paying positions in STEM fields. This is despite the fact that, on average, companies with women in leadership roles perform better than companies without.   

Global Statistics

From Women on Boards: (Women on Boards)

Companies with more women on their boards were found to outperform their rivals with a 42% higher return in sales, 66% higher return on invested capital and 53% higher return on equity.

From MSCI: (Women on boards: 2019 progress report)

When compared to other industries (including non-STEM), the representation of women among board directors in the information technology industry remains low but had the sharpest increase, from 14.8% in 2018 to 17.9% in 2019.

From UNESCO: (Women in Science)

Averaged across regions, women accounted for less than a third (29.3%) of those employed in scientific research and development (R&D) across the world in 2016.

The only regions in which women represented over a third of the R&D workforce are

From the National Science Foundation: (S&E Indicators 2018 | NSF)

A few small differences in average mathematics scores by sex were observed in 2015 within racial or ethnic groups. In grade 4, the average score for white male students was 2 points higher than the score for white female students. Among black students in grade 4, the pattern was reversed, with the average score for black female students 2 points higher than the score for black male students. The largest difference in average scores for male and female students was among Hispanic students in grade 12. The average score for male students was 5 points higher than that for female students.

From College Factual: (Women vs. Men in STEM Degrees: Do we Have a Problem?)

On average, the STEM degrees that women are more likely to pursue are more science-oriented over engineering, math or computers, and tend to be lower paid.

From Emerson: Emerson’s 2018 Stem Survey Shows a Need for Stem Education | Emerson US

Less than 50 percent of parents say their daughter is encouraged to pursue a STEM career. 

United States Statistics

From Builtin: (Women In The Workplace Statistics: Tech Edition | Built In)

48% of women in STEM jobs report discrimination in the recruitment and hiring process.

43% of Americans believe women create a safer, more respectful work environment than men. Only 5% of Americans believe men create a safer work space.

26% of computing-related jobs are held by women.

40% of US businesses are owned by women, with 64% of new women-owned businesses being started by women of color.

In 2016, women only received about 2% of total investor funding, and women-led businesses made up just 4.9% of all VC deals.

From the National Science Foundation: (The State of US Science and Engineering 2020)

Despite accounting for over half of the college-educated workforce, women in the United States made up only 29% of those employed in science and engineering occupations in 2017.

From Korn Ferry: (Korn Ferry Analysis of Largest US Companies Shows Percentage of Women in C-Suite Roles Inches Up from Previous Year)

The study found that across all C-suite positions, the most senior post is held by the smallest percentage of women, with only 6 percent serving as CEO.

The percentage of women who hold the CIO/CTO role rose from 16 percent last year to 18 percent this year. (2019)

From Rand: (Who Gets Counted as Part of America’s STEM Workforce?)

Women receive a premium for working in STEM, 105 percentage points higher than the earnings of women in non-STEM.

Women are also more likely than men to work in the “STEM periphery.” These are roles in which they can apply STEM skills and expertise, but which are lower-paying jobs outside of traditional STEM occupations.

From (Reports)

In 2018, women in computer, engineering, and science occupations were paid an estimated 80.7% of men’s annual median earnings.

From the Pew Research Center: (Diversity in the STEM workforce varies widely across jobs)

Women comprise three-quarters of health care practitioners and technicians, the largest occupational cluster classified as STEM in this analysis, with 9.0 million workers – 6.7 million of whom are women.

Women’s gains since 1990 in the life sciences (up from 34% to 47%) have brought them roughly on par with their share in the total workforce (47%), a milestone reached in math occupations (46%) as well.

Women remain underrepresented in engineering (14%), computer (25%) and physical science (39%) occupations.

From the National Center on Educational Statistics: (Indicator 26: STEM Degrees)

Overall, a higher percentage of bachelor’s degrees were awarded to females than to males in 2015–16 (58 vs. 42 percent). However, in STEM fields, a lower percentage of bachelor’s degrees were awarded to females than to males (36 vs. 64 percent).

From the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: (National hiring experiments reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM tenure track)

Contrary to prevailing assumptions, men and women faculty members from all four fields (biology, engineering, economics, and psychology) preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males with matching lifestyles (single, married, divorced), with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference. 

From Mandlabs: Current state of STEM education in the US: What needs to be done?

Women in science and technology jobs are 45 percent more likely to leave the industry just within a year compared to their men counterparts.

Minorities in STEM Stats

These are statistics looking specifically at the relationships between STEM and minority groups. In general we can see that despite diversity in a company being extremely beneficial for both its profits and its resiliency, yet minorities are still vastly underrepresented in STEM fields. This is likely caused by a number of factors, but one of the most obvious causes is the lack of funding for schools with larger minority populations. 

From the National Center on Educational Statistics: (Number and percentage distribution of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees/certificates conferred by postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity, level of degree/certificate, and sex of student: 2008-09 through 2017-18)

Women of Color Earn the Smallest Share of STEM Degrees

From the National Science Foundation: (S&E Indicators 2018 | NSF)

In general, female and male students perform equally well in mathematics and science on standardized tests, but larger gaps exist between students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds or family income, with white and Asian/Pacific Islander students and those from higher income families scoring higher than their counterparts who are black, Hispanic, or American Indian/Alaska Native or who are from lower income families.

From the Pew Research Center: (Diversity in the STEM workforce varies widely across jobs)

Blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in the STEM workforce. Overall, blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in the STEM workforce relative to their shares in the U.S. workforce as a whole. This underrepresentation is evident across all STEM job clusters, with one exception: 11% of health care practitioners and technicians are black, similar to the share of blacks in the total workforce.

From EdBuild: (EdBuild | 23 Billion)

For every student enrolled, the average nonwhite school district receives $2,226 less than a white school district.

 From Master’s in Data Science: (A Guide for Minorities In STEM)

Companies with diverse management teams produce almost 20% more revenue than their counterparts.

STEM in College Stats

These statistics are specifically dealing with STEM in education, with a focus on the college years. The data shows that jobs in STEM fields tend to pay much higher than the national average for both new and experienced workers. Accordingly, the number of college students intending to major in S&E (Science and Engineering) fields is steadily rising, as are the numbers of S&E graduates.

From the National Center on Educational Statistics: (Number, percentage distribution, unemployment rates, and median earnings of 25- to 29-year-old bachelor’s degree holders and percentage of degree holders among all 25- to 29-year-olds, by field of study and science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) status of field: 2010 and 2015)

Young adults with bachelor’s or higher degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) tend to have more positive economic outcomes, such as higher median earnings, than do those with degrees in non-STEM fields.

From Glassdoor: (Glassdoor’s “50 Highest Paying College Majors”)

Many of the highest paying majors are from STEM fields.

From Visual Capitalist: (Chart: Which College Degrees Get the Highest Salaries?)

The majors that saw the highest median mid-career salaries were all along the engineering spectrum: chemical engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, and aerospace engineering all came in above $100,000. They also generally had very high starting salaries.

From the National Science Foundation: (STEM Education Data and Trends 09)

Since the data were first collected in 1972, a third or more of first-time freshmen at 4-year institutions have planned on majoring in S&E.

The percentage of freshmen with S&E intentions shows a notable increase for both men and women beginning in 2008.

Overall, the percentage of male freshmen intending to major in S&E increased from 39% in 1995 to 47% in 2011, and then declined to 46% in 2012. The pattern was similar among female freshmen, whose intentions to major in S&E increased from 27% in 1995 to 35% in 2011, followed by a decline to 34% in 2012.

From the National Science Foundation: (STEM Education Data and Trends 14)

The number of S&E bachelor’s degrees awarded to women rose from 200,952 in 2000 to 297,539 in 2012. The number of S&E bachelor’s degrees earned by men over this period increased from 197,650 to 291,791.

From 2000 to 2012, about one-third of all bachelor’s degrees conferred by U.S. colleges and universities each year were in S&E fields.

From the National Center on Educational Statistics: (Indicator 26: STEM Degrees)

Of the 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2015–16, about 331,000 (18 percent) were in STEM fields.

From Pew Research Center: (Diversity in the STEM workforce varies widely across jobs) 

Some 36% of STEM workers have a bachelor’s degree but no graduate degree. Roughly three-in-ten STEM workers (29%) have earned a master’s, doctorate or professional degree. Life scientists are the most highly educated among STEM workers, with 54%, on average, having an advanced degree.

From Forbes: (The Top Degrees For Getting Hired Right Out Of College: Energy Industry Jobs Take A Dive)

72% of students majoring in computer science have a full-time job less than six months after graduating.

STEM training in college is associated with higher earnings, whether working in a STEM occupation or not.

STEM Education Stats

These statistics are specifically dealing with STEM in education, with a focus on the grade school years.The general consensus is that despite there being a need for more and better STEM education, teachers lack the necessary resources, both financial and experiential, to successfully achieve those results. 

From the National Science Foundation: (S&E Indicators 2018)

All ninth graders who began high school in 2009 and completed in 2013 took at least one science course, with 79% taking at least one general science course (but no advanced science) and 21% taking at least one advanced course.

From the National Center on Educational Statistics: (Stats in Brief: Gender Differences in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Interest, Credits Earned, and NAE)

50 percent of male high school graduates said that mathematics was one of their favorite subjects, compared to 43 percent of female high school graduates. Similarly, in 2009, higher percentages of males reported that they liked science or that science was a favorite subject.

Compared to males, higher percentages of females earned credits in algebra II, precalculus, advanced biology, chemistry, and health science/technologies. However, higher percentages of males earned credits in physics, engineering, engineering/science technologies, and computer/information science.

From Design and Technology Education: (Williams, J. (2011). STEM education: Proceed with caution. Design and Technology Education: An International Journal, 16(1).)

The rationale for investment in STEM education relates mainly to its association with improved economic outcomes

There is a correlation between the promotion of technology education and economic depressions in the 1890s, 1930s and 1980s

From Journal of Curriculum Studies: (Voogt, J., & Roblin, N. P. (2012). A comparative analysis of international frameworks for 21st century competences: Implications for national curriculum policies. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 44(3), 299–321.)

The 21st century job market requires a new set of skills, and there is more emphasis on technology skills

From Skipy: (The Benefits of STEM toys in the Growing Years)

Only 20% of students meet STEM benchmarks, and this is even though careers in STEM topics are the most in-demand and also the highest-paying.

From Mandlabs: Current state of STEM education in the US: What needs to be done?

Only 16 percent of high school seniors are keen on pursuing STEM careers

From Emerson: Emerson’s 2018 Stem Survey Shows a Need for Stem Education | Emerson US

The survey found only 1 in 3 adults (33 percent) believe teachers currently have the resources they need to provide a quality STEM education.

STEM in Early Education Stats

These statistics are specifically dealing with STEM in education, with a focus on the years before age 8. There is a consensus that it is important to begin STEM learning early, since an early understanding of STEM concepts is one of the best indicators of success in those fields in later years. But many early education teachers are among the least qualified to teach STEM concepts. This is especially troubling because the teacher’s own confidence in the student’s ability to learn a concept is one of the most influential indicators of whether or not the student will succeed in learning it.

From the Joan Ganz Cooney Center: (STEM Starts Early: Grounding Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in Early Childhood)

A 2016 study, for example, examined learning experiences in more than 7,750 children from kindergarten entry to the end of eighth grade, and found that early acquisition of knowledge about the world was correlated with later science success. Among children who entered kindergarten with low levels of general knowledge, 62% were struggling in science in third grade and 54% were still struggling in eighth grade.

Children who engage in scientific activities from an early age develop positive attitudes toward science which also correlate with later science achievement and they are more likely to pursue STEM expertise and careers later on.

Even before one year of age, babies have been shown to systematically test physical hypotheses when they observe objects behaving in unexpected ways.

Across the research literature, family engagement in the math and literacy education of young children (3–8 years) has a consistently positive effect on children’s learning in those areas, and this relation is strongest when that engagement takes place outside of school.

Young children are capable of engaging in, at developmentally appropriate levels, the scientific practices that high school students carry out.

Even in the first year of life, babies systematically test physical hypotheses when they see something that doesn’t conform to their expectations.

As with learning a new language, children become fluent in STEM habits and more knowledgeable about STEM topics when they are immersed in them.

From Nation’s Report Card: (NAEP Report Cards – Home)

66 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in science and 60 percent were not proficient in math.

From Taylor and Francis Online: (Early Childhood Educators’ Perceptions of Nature, Science, and Environmental Education)

Early childhood educators are least confident about teaching nature/science.

From First Things First: (Brain Development First Things First.Org)

The human brain grows to 90% of its adult size by age 5.

From Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances:

(Duncan, G.J., & K. Magnuson. 2011. “The Nature and Impact of Early Achievement Skills, Attention Skills, and Behavior Problems.” Chap. 3 in Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances, eds. G.J. Duncan & R.J. Murnane, 47–69. New York: Russell Sage.)

STEM habits of mind—such as critical thinking, persistence, and systematic experimentation—are important across all subject areas and may be essential to how children learn to learn.

From Early Childhood Research Quarterly: 

(Sarama, J., A.A. Lange, D.H. Clements, & C.B. Wolfe. 2012. “The Impacts of an Early Mathematics Curriculum on Oral Language and Literacy.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 27 (3): 489–502.)

Early STEM instruction leads to better language and literacy outcomes.

From Business Roundtable: (Why Reading Matters)

Math skills and reading skills at kindergarten entry are equally predictive of reading skills in eighth grade.

From Creative Education: 

(Seker, P.T., & F. Alisinanoglu. 2015. “A Survey Study of the Effects of Preschool Teachers’ Beliefs and Self-Efficacy Toward Mathematics Education and Their Demographic Features on 48- to 60-Month Old Preschool Children’s Mathematic Skills.” Creative Education 6 (3): 405–14.)

The strongest predictor of preschoolers’ math learning was their teachers’ belief that math education was appropriate for their age.

From Sex Roles: 

(Gunderson, E.A., G. Ramirez, S.C. Levine, & S.L. Beilock. 2012. “The Role of Parents and Teachers in the Development of Gender Related Math Attitudes.” Sex Roles 66 (3–4): 153–66.)

Parents’ beliefs about their child’s ability in math are a stronger predictor of the child’s self-perception in math than the child’s previous math scores

From SEED Conference Collected Papers: (ECRP: Beyond This Issue, Collected Papers from the SEED (STEM in Early Education and Development) Conference)

Classrooms that rely primarily on lecture-based instruction, in which teachers control decision making and discussion, are the least effective at fostering self-reliance and resilience, two characteristics that are foundational to STEM inquiry and practices 

STEM Toys Stats

These are statistics relating to STEM focused children’s toys and the effects they have. In general, parents feel that STEM focused toys are extremely important to their childrens’ abilities in STEM subjects. The majority of parents also want their children to learn to code to some degree, but many feel unqualified to teach the necessary skills themselves. 

From the Toy Association: (Reading Room)

The majority of parents (67 percent) believe STEM/STEAM-focused toys are the primary way to encourage development of science, technology, engineering, and math in their child, followed by at-home experiences (57 percent).

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE parents face in fostering STEM/STEAM skills is competition with screen time (50 percent), followed by time constraints (45 percent), and lack of fun learning options (39 percent)

Forty percent of the parents acknowledged that their child spends between three to four hours a day using technology. Thirty percent of the parents revealed their child spends one to two hours, while 19 percent of parents confessed their children spend as much as six hours a day looking at a screen.

With all this screen time, 45 percent admitted their kids knew more than they did about technology, with only 28 percent of parents saying they were more tech savvy than their kids. Collectively, 73 percent of the parents who admitted their kids knew more about technology than they did confided that their kids surpassed them as young as four years old.

72 percent of parents agreed that their child’s better understanding of technology made it difficult for them to help their kids learn.

Three specific skills topped parents’ lists of what kids should master and were pretty evenly rated. They include written and oral communication (60 percent), tech/computer literacy (58 percent), and mathematics (57 percent).

Coding is a skill set parents would like their kids to acquire with 85 percent having encouraged or plan to encourage their child to learn to code. The majority feel the ideal age to begin developing these skills is between six and seven years old.