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Total STEM workforce and its diversity see increase

March 02, 2023

Although men and whites still make up the largest share of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce, it has been gradually diversifying over the past 10 years, with increased representation of women and underrepresented minorities — that is, Hispanics or Latinos, Blacks or African Americans, and American Indians or Alaska Natives, according to the 2023 biennial report, Diversity and STEM: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities, from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.  The total STEM workforce grew 20% between 2011 and 2021, increasing from 29.0 million to 34.9 million workers. STEM workers as a percentage of the total workforce also increased, growing three percentage points from 21% in 2011 to 24% in 2021.

While fewer women than men work in STEM occupations, their share of the STEM workforce increased 31% from 9.4 million to 12.3 million, while the number of men increased 15% from 2011 to 2021.

White workers represented the largest race and ethnic group in the STEM workforce at 22.4 million (64% of the STEM workforce), followed by workers who were Hispanic (5.1 million or 15%), Asian (3.6 million or 10%), Black (3.0 million or 9%), and American Indian or Alaska Native (216,000 or less than 1% of the STEM 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. Additionally, the number of STEM workers with at least one disability also increased, reaching about 1.0 million in 2021.

While their numbers may be increasing, women and some racial and ethnic minority groups are underrepresented in postsecondary science and engineering (S&E) education, which the report notes may be indicative of their future participation in the STEM workforce. Hispanic, Black, and American Indian or Alaska Native persons collectively accounted for 37% of the U.S. population ages 18–34 years in 2021 and 26% of S&E bachelor’s, 24% of S&E master’s, and 16% of S&E doctoral degrees earned by U.S. citizens and permanent residents in 2020. The number of S&E degrees earned by women between 2011 and 2020 increased by 63% at the associate’s level, 34% at the bachelor’s level, 45% at the master’s degree level, and 18% at the doctorate level.

stem, diversity, women, workforce