WASHINGTON (Sept. 12, 2011) — Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank unveiled findings from the Economics and Statistics Administration’s third and final report on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs and education today at a Brookings Institution forum on advancing STEM education in the United States.
Education Supports Racial and Ethnic Equality in STEM analyzes the demographic composition and educational background of STEM workers, looking at representation disparities within these critical fields that promote U.S. innovation and economic competitiveness.
Findings suggest that across all racial and ethnic groups, higher college graduation rates are associated with higher shares of STEM workers, and these workers earn substantial wage premiums over their non-STEM counterparts, regardless of their background. Non-Hispanic Whites and Asians have much higher college graduation rates than Hispanics, non-Hispanic Blacks and other racial and ethnic groups (including American Indians and Alaska Natives), and are more prominently represented in STEM jobs.
With greater equality in educational attainment, the report finds that demographic disparities within the STEM workforce can be diminished, helping to boost STEM employment and U.S. leadership in technology and innovation.
“ESA’s final report shows the value of higher education as a gateway to high-quality, high-paying STEM jobs,” Blank said. “Our competitiveness as a nation depends on our ability to prepare America’s students for the jobs of tomorrow. That’s why the Obama Administration is so strongly committed to strengthening STEM training in the U.S.”
The President’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposes $206 million in STEM training programs. This includes funding for the U.S. Department of Education to develop teacher training in grades K-12 around STEM-related topics, as well as funding for the National Science Foundation to conduct research on effective teacher training in STEM fields. Launched in 2009, the Educate to Innovate campaign is also designed to improve U.S. students’ participation and performance in STEM subject areas, particularly focused on women and underrepresented demographic groups. In January 2010, as part of this effort, more than $250 million in public-private investments were made to help prepare 10,000 new math and science teachers and provide additional training to more than 100,000 existing teachers.
Other key findings of today’s report include:
• Non-Hispanic Whites comprise the largest group of STEM workers, accounting for about seven out of 10 STEM workers, which aligns closely with their share of the overall workforce.
• Non-Hispanic Asians are most likely (42 percent) to graduate college with a STEM degree, while the propensities of other groups are all fairly similar (17-22 percent).
• Half of all non-Hispanic Asian workers with STEM degrees have STEM jobs, compared to 30 percent of Hispanics and non-Hispanic Black and American Indian or Alaska Native workers.
• One in five STEM workers is foreign born, of which 63 percent come from Asia.
• STEM workers in all demographic groups, including the foreign born, earn more than their non-STEM counterparts. Hispanics and non-Hispanic Blacks receive a significantly larger STEM premium than do non-Hispanic Whites.
Education Supports Racial and Ethnic Equality in STEM is the third in a series of ESA reports focused on science, technology, engineering and math employment in the United States. The first, STEM: Good Jobs Now and For the Future, released in July, profiles STEM workers and the critical role STEM jobs play in advancing American innovation and competitiveness. The second report, released in August – Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation – examines the gender disparity among STEM workers.
The report is available at http://www.esa.doc.gov/Reports/education-supports-racial-and-ethnic-equality-stem.