STEM Jobs See Uneven Progress in Increasing Gender, Racial and Ethnic Diversity

Higher education pipeline suggests long path ahead for increasing diversity, especially in fields like computing and engineering

  1. The analytic lens on those earning bachelor’s and advanced degrees in STEM omits an important part of the STEM workforce. As of 2019, 27% of STEM workers report having completed an associate degree or some college with no degree. These “middle skill” workers are more prevalent among those in health-related and computer job clusters. 
  2. A 2019 report pointed to potential gains from a focus on minority-serving colleges and university. See “Closing the Equity Gap: Securing our STEM Education and Workforce Readiness Infrastructure in the Nation’s Minority-Serving Institutions,” National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. 
  3. Race/ethnicity data is unavailable for 4% of all bachelor’s degree and 4% of STEM bachelor’s degree recipients in 2018. 
  4. Across all occupations, the Black-to-White (73%) and Hispanic-to-White (68%) earnings gaps are wider than the pay disparities in STEM occupations. 
  5. Miller, Kevin, Deborah J. Vagins, 2018, The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap, AAUW. Also see the 2020 update
  6. 2018 Pew Research Center analysis showed that gender pay gaps for STEM workers occur across all education levels. A large literature has explored the source of gender and other pay gaps. See Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M Kahn, 2017. “The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations” Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. 55, No.3; Shulamit Kahn and Donna Ginther, 2017. “Women and STEM.” NBER Working Paper 23525; Katherine Michelmore and Sharon Sassler, “Explaining the Gender Wage Gap in STEM: Does Field Sex Composition Matter?” Journal of the Social Sciences, Volume 2, Number 4, August 2016, pp. 194-215; Valeria Wilson and William M. Rodgers III, Sept. 20, 2016, “Black-white wage gaps expand with rising wage inequality,” Economic Policy Institute. 
By Rhea Gellineau-King
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