Why is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) significant?
We are evolving into an ever-more technology-dependent world. STEM skills are vitally important to keeping America globally competitive. In some STEM fields, women have made progress. Women are 39% of the chemists and material scientists and 53% of professionals in the biological sciences. But in 2013, only 26% of computing professionals were female -- down considerably from 35% in 1990 and virtually the same as in 1960. The United States will have more than 8.6 million STEM-related jobs available in 2018, but the National Math and Science Initiative warns that as many as three million of those jobs might be unfilled.
To close that gap, it is crucial to address the disparities in STEM education. In 2009, 24 percent of the scientists and engineers in the United States were women. Nationally, women earn 41 percent of the doctorates in STEM fields today, but make up only 28 percent of tenure-track faculty in those fields. At UMass Lowell, of the 415 current tenure-track faculty, 49 percent are in STEM fields (excluding Social & Behavioral Sciences, SBS).