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Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, by gender

Question:
What information do you have on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in the U.S. by gender?

Response:

Secondary education: STEM Education and Career Expectations

In 2009, compared to males, lower percentages of female high school graduates reported that they liked mathematics or science and that mathematics or science was one of their favorite subjects.

In addition, 50 percent of male high school graduates said that mathematics was one of their favorite subjects, compared to 43 percent of female high school graduates. Similarly, in 2009, higher percentages of males reported that they liked science or that science was a favorite subject.

Variation existed in the percentages of male and female 2009 high school graduates who earned credits for STEM courses. Compared to males, higher percentages of females earned credits in algebra II, precalculus, advanced biology, chemistry, and health science/technologies. However, higher percentages of males earned credits in physics, engineering, engineering/science technologies, and computer/information science.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). Gender Differences in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Interest, Credits Earned, and NAEP Performance in the 12th Grade (NCES 2015-075).

In 2015, some 40 percent of all U.S. 15-year-old students expected to have either a health or STEM career at age 30. Specifically, 23 percent expected to have a health career and 16 percent expected to have a STEM career. While a greater percentage of female students expected to have a health career than did male students (37 percent vs. 9 percent), a greater percentage of male students expected to have a STEM career than did female students (26 percent vs. 7 percent).

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2020). Health and STEM Career Expectations and Science Literacy Achievement of U.S. 15-Year-Old Students (NCES 2020-034).

Postsecondary education: STEM degrees

Young adults with bachelorís or higher degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) tend to have more positive economic outcomes, such as higher median earnings, than do those with degrees in non-STEM fields.1

Overall, a higher percentage of bachelorís degrees were awarded to females than to males in 2015–16 (58 vs. 42 percent). However, in STEM fields, a lower percentage of bachelorís degrees were awarded to females than to males (36 vs. 64 percent). This pattern—in which females received higher percentages of bachelorís degrees overall but lower percentages of bachelorís degrees in STEM fields—was observed across all racial/ethnic groups. The gap between the percentage of STEM bachelorís degrees awarded to males and the percentage awarded to females was largest among White students (33 percentage points), followed by Pacific Islander (28 percentage points), Hispanic (25 percentage points), American Indian/Alaska Native (23 percentage points), Asian students (21 percentage points), and students of Two or more races (21 percentage points). Black students (11 percentage points) had the smallest gap between the percentage of STEM bachelorís degrees awarded to males and the percentage awarded to females.

1 For more information on economic outcomes by degree field, please see Digest of Education Statistics 2019, table 505.10.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups, Indicator 26: STEM Degrees (NCES 2019-038).

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