- Half of American adults believe students don't pursue STEM degrees because the field is too difficult, according to the results of a Pew Research Center survey.
- Pew reports only about a third of workers over the age of 25 have an undergraduate degree in a STEM field; but while only 13% of the U.S. workforce was employed in a STEM job in 2016, 40% of non-STEM workers said they were interested in the field at some point.
- When asked why they didn't pursue a STEM career or degree, 27% of respondents said they thought it was too costly and time-intensive to pursue, while only 14% said it had to do with classes being too difficult — statistics that reflect how lack of opportunities of promotion at the K-12 level may be a greater barrier to STEM participation in college and career.
When it comes to encouraging participation in STEM, experts contend barriers like lack of confidence or few resources in underserved regions are more likely to prevent young students from getting into the field. For example, a 2017 survey of 11,500 girls across 12 European countries commissioned by Microsoft found 60% of respondents said they would feel more confident pursuing a STEM career if they thought men and women were being treated equally in those fields.
To increase access to the field and broaden the pipeline, institutions can ratchet up their STEM game by teaming up with K-12 and industry partners, which can provide resources to schools to provide more opportunities for students. They can also look toward organizations like the National Science Foundation for grants and talk to policymakers about why STEM training and research important for the nation.