New Diversity and STEM Data from the NSF

On January 31, The National Science Foundation (NSF) hosted a webinar to present data from their biennial report: “Diversity and STEM: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities.”  

The 1980 NSF Authorization and Science and Technology Equal Opportunities Act mandates this biennial report on minorities and women in scientific and technical fields to “promote the full participation of minorities in science and technology.” The report is conducted by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), part of the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate within the NSF. 

NSF Director Dr. Panchanathan provided opening remarks about the report underscoring that inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility principles are a key priority in the NSF, and that diverse perspectives are crucial to the agency’s mission.  

Dr. Emilda Rivers, the Director of NCSES, remarked that after 22 years of releases, the report name changed from “Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering” to “Diversity and STEM: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities” – refocusing the report to capture the full spectrum of diversity. The name change also reflects a broader definition of the “STEM workforce” – one that includes Individuals at all education levels who work in science and engineering (S&E), S&E related occupations and middle-skill occupations. 

Report authors Elizabeth Grieco and Steven Deitz highlighted some important findings from the report: 

  • The U.S. STEM workforce gradually diversified between 2011 and 2021, with increased representation of women and underrepresented minorities. 
  • Black students had higher representation among the U.S. citizens and permanent residents in the social and behavioral sciences, earning 12 percent of bachelor’s degrees in these fields in 2020, as compared to 5 percent of bachelor’s degrees in engineering.  
  • In 2020, women earned 66 percent of bachelor’s, 67 percent of master’s and 60 percent of doctoral degrees in the social and behavioral sciences. 

Alicia Knoedler, head of the NSF Office of Integrative Activities, reviewed policy implications from the data, explaining that the report sets a baseline for further discussions. Knoedler noted that NSF work is grounded in increasing access and resources to those diverse and underrepresented in STEM. 

The session ended with a Q&A from the audience. See additional resources related to the release here

Diversity, ncses, NSF, STEM