As a nation, it is imperative that we make science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education a top priority to address the national STEM workforce shortage and to remain competitive in the 21st century economy. A constant supply of well-trained STEM workers is essential to meeting the goals of finding ways to multiply the impact of investments, supporting organizations that assist underserved populations and use technology in innovative ways to scale their reach to more people.
The U.S. faces an increasing shortage in the STEM workforce: employment in STEM occupations is expected to grow 17 percent by 2018, while the number of college graduates in STEM fields continues to decline. In 2009, just 18 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded were in STEM fields, down from 24 percent two decades ago. Even more alarming: the gender and racial gap within the STEM workforce continues to widen. While women comprise 49% of the college-educated workforce, only 14% of engineers are women and just 27% are working in computer science and math positions. Similar disparities exist for Hispanic and African American workers, who account for only six percent of STEM workers. Recently it has come to light that the number of girls that are majoring in Computer Science has drastically dropped in the past 15 years.