More about that STEM shortage

Some discussion of my last post got me thinking about the supply side of STEM, so I made some more charts because I love charts. This time I'm calling it SHTEM:1 "Soft" (social) sciences, "Hard" (life & physical) sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.2

Percentage of STEM degrees:3

  • 48% Social sciences
  • 27% Life & physical sciences
  • 15% Engineering
  • 10% Math & computer sciences

Percentage of STEM jobs:4

  • 50% Technology (computers)
  • 32% Engineering
  • 12% Life & physical sciences
  • 4% Social sciences
  • 3% Mathematics

Here's what I see: there's an overabundance of supply for the sciences, and an awful lot of demand for Technology and Engineering.

Okay, I know it's not that simple. Those STEM jobs are existing jobs, not yet-to-be-filled jobs. They're also "STEM jobs," but not "STEM-related jobs" (e.g. healthcare), which might account for more of that difference.5 Additionally, I know that plenty of people choose majors for reasons other than job availability, and not all of them plan to get jobs in the same field as their degrees, regardless of employment prospects.6 Still, it does add to my hunch that a STEM shortage is really a TE shortage.

1: Reminds me of "shtick," which somehow seems fitting to me when talking about STEM shortages.

2: Since the data I have Bachelor's degrees in Math & Comp sci are lumped together, and there isn't a category of degrees called "technology," I left the T bar empty, and I gave the M bar both the tech and math colors.

3: I got these numbers by adding up STEM Bachelor's awarded in 2010 (Table of data here) and STEM PhDs awarded in 2012 (Table of data here). Those are the most recent numbers I could find, and I haven't yet seen any numbers for Masters degrees.

I counted Social sciences Bachelor's as Psychology + Social sciences, and Life & physical sciences Bachelor's as Biological & agricultural sciences + Earth, atmospheric & ocean sciences + Physical sciences.

4: These are the same numbers as last time, but with social & life sciences separated. They came from this post at Random Samples, the US Census Bureau blog.

5: Language here matters here. For more about "STEM jobs" vs. "STEM-related jobs," see the "Standardizing STEM" section of this post.

6: I'm thinking here of people who get pretty far along in a degree program before they realize they don't actually like it. I also knew a few people in undergrad who majored in the sciences (and majored in an education program) with the intention of getting a deeper background in the subjects they wanted to teach. I suspect that Science Teacher doesn't get counted in "STEM jobs," and possibly not in "STEM-related jobs," either.