STEM Statistics: Workforce

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Women remain underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce, although to a lesser degree than in the past, with the greatest disparities occurring in engineering, computer science, and the physical sciences (NSF, Science & Engineering Indicators, 2018).

  • Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 28% of the science and engineering workforce.
  • Female scientists and engineers are concentrated in different occupations than are men, with relatively high shares of women in the social sciences (60%) and biological, agricultural, and environmental life sciences (48%) and relatively low shares in engineering (15%) and computer and mathematical sciences (26%).

Race and ethnicity are salient factors in rates of participation in the science and engineering workforce (NSF, Science & Engineering Indicators, 2018).

  • The U.S. science and engineering workforce has become more diverse, but several racial and ethnic minority groups continue to be significantly underrepresented.
  • In 2015, 67% of workers in science and engineering occupations were white, which is close to the proportion in the U.S. working age population.
  • Hispanics, blacks, and American Indians/Alaska Natives make up a smaller share of the science and engineering workforce (11%) than their proportion in the general population (27% of U.S. working age population).
  • Asians work in science and engineering occupations at higher rates (20.6%) than their representation in the U.S. working-age population (5.5%). Asians are particularly highly concentrated in computer and information science occupations.
  • The increase in female participation in science and engineering over the past two decades includes increasing participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups, especially Hispanic and Asian women.
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