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Education Supports Racial and Ethnic Equality in STEM

Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workers are essential to American innovation and competitiveness in an increasingly dynamic and global marketplace. In this third report, we examine demographic disparities in STEM education and find that educational attainment may affect equality of opportunity in these critical, high-quality jobs of the future.

This report follows an analysis of labor market outcomes and gender disparities among STEM workers. We find that regardless of race and Hispanic origin, higher college graduation rates are associated with higher shares of workers with STEM jobs. But non-Hispanic Whites and Asians are much more likely than other minority groups to have a bachelor’s degree. By increasing the numbers of STEM workers among currently underrepresented groups through education, we can help ensure America’s future as a global leader in technology and innovation.

Other key findings of this report include:

  • Non-Hispanic Whites comprise the largest group of STEM workers, accounting for about seven out of ten STEM workers, which aligns closely with their share of the overall workforce.
  • Non-Hispanic Asians are most likely (42 percent) to graduate college with a STEM degree, while the propensities of other groups are all fairly similar (17-22 percent).
  • Half of all non-Hispanic Asian workers with STEM degrees have STEM jobs, compared to 30 percent of Hispanics and non-Hispanic Black and American Indian and Alaska Native workers.
  • One in five STEM workers is foreign-born, of which 63 percent come from Asia.
  • STEM workers in all demographic groups, including the foreign-born, earn more than their non-STEM counterparts. Hispanics and non-Hispanic Blacks receive a significantly larger STEM premium than do non-Hispanic Whites.
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