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Blog Category: Education

Women in STEM: An Opportunity and An Imperative

Gender Shares of Total and STEM Jobs, 2009

Today Commerce's Economic and Statistics Administration released the second in a series of reports on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This report, entitled Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation (PDF), looked at women and STEM. The results offer an opportunity and an imperative for women and America. The results showed that women are vastly underrepresented in STEM jobs and among STEM degree holders despite making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and half of the college-educated workforce. That leaves an untapped opportunity to expand STEM employment in the United States, even as there is wide agreement that the nation must do more to improve its competitiveness.

Other key findings are:

  • Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. This has been the case throughout the past decade, even as college-educated women have increased their share of the overall workforce.
  • Women with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs–considerably higher than the STEM premium for men. As a result, the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs.
  • Women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering.
  • Women with a STEM degree are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation; they are more likely to work in education or healthcare

For more information on this topic, read Chief Economist Mark Doms's blog post about the report and ESA's first report on STEM: Good Jobs Now and For the Future.

NOAA: Cultivating the Next Generation of STEM Workers, One Student at a Time

NOAA’s Ernest F. Hollings scholarship program students on Chesapeake Bay field study  (NOAA photo)

You’ve probably heard the term in the news of late. “STEM jobs” in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, are the new “It” jobs.

A report from Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration discussed recently in this blog had good news for present and future STEM workers. Among its key findings, the report notes that in the past 10 years:

  • Growth in STEM jobs was three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs;
  • STEM workers earn 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts; and
  • Job growth in these fields will continue to grow at a faster rate than other jobs. 

As the report confirms, STEM workers are driving our nation’s innovation and competitiveness and helping America “win the future” with new ideas, new businesses and new industries.

Enter Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA’s mission—to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts, to share that knowledge and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources—is central to many of today’s greatest challenges.  

Why? Climate change, extreme weather, declining biodiversity, and threatened natural resources all convey a common message: Now, more than ever, human health, prosperity and well-being depend upon the health and resilience of both natural and social ecosystems and resources.

That means we need skilled hands and inspired minds to help society prepare for and respond to weather-related events, to sustain healthy and productive ecosystems and to ensure resilient coastal communities and economies.

Winning the Future Through Education and Commerce

Undersecretary Sanchez

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez who is Under Secretary for International Trade in the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration.

When we think about the vast work the Commerce Department does with exports, what do we picture? Food, perhaps. Textiles. Cutting-edge technologies. But what many don’t consider are the legions of international students who attend American colleges and universities. It might sound odd, but they are considered “exports.” Indeed, education plays a critical role in the work we do every day in the International Trade Administration.

That’s why I’m so pleased to announce that starting April 2, 2011, I will lead the largest education and services trade mission in the history of the U.S. Department of Commerce.  Accompanied by 56 U.S. colleges and universities, we will travel to Indonesia and Vietnam to expand U.S. educational opportunities for international students.

America is home to the best opportunities for higher education in the world.  More students come to the U.S. to study than any other country on the planet. International students’ tuition and living expenses alone brought almost $20 billion to the U.S. economy in the 2009-2010 academic year.

Our goals for this trip are extensive. Expanding U.S. educational opportunities for international students will have some direct benefits to our national economy.  By increasing domestic jobs and aiding innovation and research while strengthening our relations and ties abroad, the fact is that sharing our colleges with foreign-born students will make America that much more rich and robust.