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.
- Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 34% 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 (65%) and life sciences (48%) and relatively low shares in physical sciences (25%), computer and mathematical sciences (26%), and engineering (15%).
- Although fewer women than men work in STEM occupations, their share of the STEM workforce grew at a faster rate over past 10 years. Between 2011 and 2021, the number of women in the STEM workforce increased 31%.
- In 2020, women had lower median earnings than men in STEM occupations overall.
Race and ethnicity are salient factors in rates of participation in the science and engineering workforce.
- Collectively, underrepresented minorities—Hispanics, Blacks, and American Indians or Alaska Natives—represented nearly a quarter (24%) of the STEM workforce in 2021, up from 18% in 2011. However, they continue to make up a smaller share of the STEM workforce than their proportion of the U.S. population (30%).
- As the proportion of other racial and ethnic groups increased, the proportion of White STEM workers decreased from 74% in 2011 to 64% in 2021. These data show increasing diversity within the STEM workforce over this 10-year period.
- 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/Latina and Asian women. However, Latina, Black, and Indigenous women represent less than 10% of the STEM workforce overall.
Disability status is also a factor related to participation in the science and engineering workforce.
- 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.
- While most of the increase in STEM workers over the past decade were for people without at least one disability, the number of people with at least one disability in a STEM occupation also increased, reaching 1 million in 2021.
National Science Board, National Science Foundation. 2022. Science and Engineering Indicators 2022: The State of U.S. Science and Engineering. NSB-2022-1. Alexandria, VA. Available at https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsb20221
National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). 2023. Diversity and STEM: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities 2023. Special Report NSF 23-315. Alexandria, VA: National Science Foundation. Available at https://ncses.nsf.gov/wmpd.