While careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) remain among the fasting-growing areas in America’s workforce, the disparity of people filling those positions also continues to grow.
Nicole Acevedo of NBC News has reported that “Latino and Black workers remain underrepresented in the STEM workforce compared with their share of all workers.”
And according to a new Pew Research Center report published on April 1, the gap in STEM workforce representation is especially large for Hispanic adults.
“While Latinos make up 17% of total employment across all occupations, they represent only 8% of all STEM workers,” Acevedo reported. “Their share of all STEM workers is up 1% since 2016, in line with their growth in the overall workforce.”
“At the same time, Black people comprise 11% of all employed adults, compared with 9% of those in STEM occupations. Their share of all STEM workers remains unchanged since 2016,” Acevedo added. “In some STEM job clusters, such as engineering and architecture jobs, that share is as low as 5%.”
On the flip side, white men and women make up 67% of STEM occupations. And although Asian people comprise of just 6% of the total workforce, Pew reported they are overrepresented in STEM as well, holding 13% of jobs within the category.
According to the report’s authors, Richard Fry, Brian Kennedy, and Cary Funk, these findings occur even as numerous efforts are already underway to increase diversity and representation within the STEM field.
The researchers also discovered that while women comprise a large majority of all workers in health-related jobs, they remain vastly underrepresented in other STEM fields such as the physical sciences, computing and engineering.
“Women make up 50% of those employed in STEM jobs, slightly higher than their share in the overall workforce (47%), and they are heavily overrepresented in health-related jobs (74%), the largest STEM occupational cluster,” Acevedo reported. “Women continue to be vastly underrepresented in the ranks of engineers and architects (15%) and account for 25% of those working computer occupations. Women also make up 40% of the nation’s physical scientists, 48% of life scientists and 47% of them are in mathematical occupations.”
In the report, Fry, Kennedy, and Funk addressed the problem, writing that “the long-term outlook for diversity in the STEM workforce is closely tied to representation in the STEM educational system, particularly across the nation’s colleges and universities.”
Sadly, current trends among those earning STEM degrees suggest the gap in representation may not be changing anytime soon. In the most recent data available, Black students earned just 7% of all STEM bachelor’s degrees awarded in the United States, and Latinx students performed just slightly better at 12%.
“Black and Latino adults are also underrepresented among those earning advanced degrees in STEM, especially among those earning Ph.D. or other research doctorates,” Acevedo said. “Representation of Black and Latino adults is [also] lowest in math, physical sciences and engineering degree fields, according to the report.”