About a quarter of the U.S. workforce is employed in STEM occupations, according to a new report from the National Science Foundation, and that workforce is slowly diversifying.
The NSF report argues that diversity is key to the growth of the nation’s economy and, importantly, for workers themselves.
“A diverse workforce provides the potential for innovation by leveraging different backgrounds, experiences, and points of view. Innovation and creativity, along with technical skills relying on expertise in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), contribute to a robust STEM enterprise. Furthermore, STEM workers have higher median earnings and lower rates of unemployment compared with non-STEM workers.”
Here are some of the key findings of the Diversity and STEM: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities report:
- “Of the 146.4 million people ages 18 to 74 in the workforce, 34.9 million (24%) were employed in STEM occupations in 2021. Although men and women represented similar proportions of the total workforce – 52% men and 48% women – a greater share of men (29%) than women (18%) worked in STEM occupations.”
- “The U.S. STEM workforce gradually diversified between 2011 and 2021, with increased representation of women and underrepresented minorities – Hispanics or Latinos, Blacks or African Americans, and American Indians or Alaska Natives.”
- “Among racial or ethnic groups, Asian workers had the highest share employed in STEM (39%), whereas the lowest share was among Black workers (18%). Within the other racial and ethnic groups, 20% to 25% worked in STEM.”
- “Workers with one or more disabilities represent a small proportion (3%) of the total workforce. Among workers with at least one disability, 21% worked in STEM occupations, which is slightly less than the 24% of nondisabled workers in STEM occupations.”
The report also looks at the level of education received by people in the STEM workforce.