What is STEM?

STEM is the abbreviation for the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It can refer to curricula or to careers in these disciplines. They are grouped together because skill sets in each discipline often combine to make up a degree or career. For example, aerospace engineering draws on science, computer information technology, engineering and mathematical principles. These disciplines are also grouped together because they require similar skills such as quantitative analysis, reasoning and problem-solving to master them.

So why the emphasis on STEM in school curricula? These are the disciplines that keep the US competitive in world markets and keep us at the forefront of technology. However, many leaders think we are falling behind in these areas. Enrollment in college and university STEM programs is down, and the percentage of women in these programs is still low.  However, some fixes for these problems do exist. More emphasis is placed on STEM disciplines at all levels of American education from primary to college. Role models in the form of female STEM faculty are now hired more frequently and are more highly visible at the higher education level. Mentoring programs for women with both male and female mentors are another key solution to the problem of how to draw more women into STEM careers. Paid research projects and internships also help keep both men and women studying in STEM disciplines. But the help should not stop there. Career services offices at the nation’s colleges and universities should actively seek to develop relationships with companies that can use these students’ skills. Career counselors should also offer workshops and one-on-one’s about how to project a professional image and interview for STEM careers.

Want to know more about STEM careers? Check out the O*Net Online.

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