Even when women earn higher level STEM degrees at a substantial rate, the job market does not always provide equal opportunities. Only half the percentage of female STEM PhD recipients ends up working as full professors in science.
Source: U.S. News & World Report, Gender and Kids Matter in STEM Academia-But Not Just for Women, March 2014. http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/03/07/gender-and-kids-matter-in-stem-academia-but-not-just-for-women
Take a deep breath, the need for an increased statistician pipeline has begun to come to fruition. In today’s data-heavy world, data and numerical reasoning help drive decision-making. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for statisticians will increase 27 percent by 2022, easily outpacing the projected 11 percent growth rate for all other fields.
Statisticians use statistical methods to collect and analyze data and help solve real-world problems in business, engineering, and the sciences, among other fields. They are experts at producing trustworthy data, analyzing it to make their meaning clear, and drawing practical conclusions. Fortunately, the number of undergraduates majoring in statistics has nearly doubled in the past four years, shooting up by 95 percent, – making it the fastest growing STEM degree – according to new data from the National Center for Education Statistics and reported by the American Statistical Association (ASA). Students are getting the message that “statistics is a hot career field,” says ASA President David Morganstein. Statistical and analytical skills also topped the LinkedIn ranking of the 25 “hottest skills” of 2014, based on recruiters’ activity on the site.
Will the statistician pipeline be able to fill the future workforce gap?
Despite the big jump in statistics degrees, a report from the McKinsey Global Institute predicts a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills in the U.S. by 2018. We’ll still be facing a need for new hires who have been trained to run big data projects and business intelligence operations in the years ahead.
Colleges and universities are beefing up their statistics departments as a response. Many schools are offering a statistics major for the first time. The ASA study says the number of U.S. colleges granting degrees in the field has already gone up, from 74 in 2003 to 110 within 10 years, with 20 more schools recently adding programs.
More and more professions, from the everyday to the exotic, depend on data and numerical reasoning. Statisticians do way more than understand and process data – statistics is a visual science. They have to be able to picture the data and tailor studies to real-life problems. And if today’s news is any indication, effectively communicating large datasets will be a hugely important skill in the next decade. Like many STEM fields, statisticians have bright prospects ahead!
As summer blazes on and we move closer to our favorite time of year - back-to-school! - we here at CTEq thought that you, our fellow STEMthusiasts, might need a daily dose of awesome STEM facts to carry you into August. For that reason, we're serving up some of our favorite STEMtistics every day through next week!
Not familiar? Well, get in the know!
STEMtistics are beautifully designed, shareable facts on STEM education that are great in presentations, on social media, and even on your website to help make the case for STEM. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be tweeting several new STEMtistics each day using the #STEMtistics hashtag, as well as releasing them here on changetheequation.org. Visit the STEMtistics section of our website and search by category to find the perfect fact for your STEM needs!
Later this summer, we’ll be launching even more STEMtistics to equip you with the best information in STEM so stay tuned! If there’s a particular STEM stat you’d like to see, let us know!
Brace yourself for the next round in the battle over whether or not there is a STEM skills shortage. The Census Bureau reported on Thursday that almost three out of four people with a bachelor’s degree in STEM take jobs outside of STEM. “Aha!” cry the skeptics: that just goes to show that all those hard-luck cases with degrees in subjects like engineering or computer science have to settle for jobs outside of STEM to put food on the table. Of course, the skeptics are wrong.
If anything, the Census report offers yet another reminder that STEM skills are in demand across the labor market. Tony Carnevale and his colleagues at Georgetown described this dynamic in 2011. As people with STEM talent become hot properties in high-paying fields like management and finance, they argued, STEM employers have to compete for STEM talent. That just makes the STEM skills shortage more acute.
There is ample evidence for Carnevale’s theory. For example, the National Science Foundation reports that two out of three science and engineering graduates who end up in other fields report that their jobs are "closely or somewhat related" to their degrees. STEM degree holders who go into non-STEM jobs also earn 12 percent more than those don't have degrees in STEM. And, as the Census report shows, STEM graduates are significantly less likely than their non-STEM peers to be unemployed, even in jobs outside of STEM.
The Census report reminds us that it is high time we redefined what it means to be in a STEM job. The report’s definition of STEM jobs is very narrow, which skews its results. For example, almost a third of graduates in “biological, environmental and agricultural sciences” go into health care, which—incredibly—the Census Bureau does not classify as a STEM field. (For what it’s worth, CTEq’s STEM definition includes health care and nets a much larger share of jobs. The Brookings Institution’s definition is broader still.) In a nation where technological innovation is the leading engine of growth and prosperity in just about every industry, it seems quaint to draw such a dark line around jobs in engineering, computing and life sciences.
In fact, much of the current debate about STEM jobs is wasting energy we should devote to boosting STEM skills. The skeptics are right to point out that not every STEM degree will put you on a gravy train to lifelong security. Many science PhDs, for example, are struggling. But that misses the point. It’s almost always impossible to predict what STEM job will be the next hot thing. Yet that does not change the fact that every young person should graduate high school with a very strong foundation in STEM. That will give them the broadest array of choices in a shape-shifting job market.
Now, too many of our young people don’t even stand a chance.
On occasion, CTEq welcomes guest blogs about key issues or engaging ideas that may be of interest to our audience. Dr. Mitzi Montoya is vice provost and dean of the College of Technology and Innovation at Arizona State University.
The future of STEM education can be summed up in one simple idea:
If you want to equip students to tackle complex, multidisciplinary challenges in a real-world environmentafter they graduate, then you need to teach them how to tackle complex, multidisciplinary challenges in a real-world environment before they graduate.
At the College of Technology and Innovation, we base as much of our curriculum as possible on projects. Students in our three major program areas – engineering, applied science and management – start with simpler projects that fit within the confines of a single class, and then advance over four years to more complex tasks that require larger teams and longer time periods.
Our senior iProjects bring students, faculty, and industry or government sponsors together to find innovative solutions to real-world problems. Each project involves four to eight students working together in an interdisciplinary team. The partner commits to funding the project for materials, use of labs and equipment and other expenses, and also provides a project liaison, who works with the student team to develop detailed project requirements, negotiate changes, and present interim and final results. Partners receive full access to all project outcomes and retain all intellectual property.
Among this year’s iProjects, the one everyone seems most excited about is the “dog waste digester,” sponsored by the town of Gilbert, AZ. Located near Phoenix, Gilbert is home to the very popular “Cosmo” dog park, which gets more than 600,000 visitors each year.
That’s a lot of dog poop.
Currently, that waste is taken to a local landfill, and it costs the city about $9,000 each year to dispose of it. The digester our students are building will use solar power to convert the waste to methane gas, which would then be harnessed to power a light that will draw dog owners’ attention to the proper disposal area. This iProject includes students and faculty from biology, engineering and psychology.
In a story last summer in the Arizona Republic, Assistant Town Manager Tami Ryall said town officials were “really excited at the opportunity to have the students design it.”
Faculty advisor Kiril D. Hristovski described the way the project fits in with the College’s mission: “In the real world, you work as a team and they should be able to function as a team.”
The iProjects are an exciting new model for higher education. Students apply newly acquired knowledge, giving them tremendous workplace experience in a university environment. Industry partners retain all intellectual property, access student creativity and expertise, and can assess potential intern and workforce candidates. The College is able to attract and retain students of the highest potential because of the exemplary interdisciplinary team-based learning experience that these projects provide.
For more information, please check out our webpage: technology.asu.edu/iprojects.