How to Create a Diverse Workforce in the STEM Fields

Research & Development | December 13, 2017

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Today, companies in the STEM field severely lack workforce diversity. To succeed in the long run, companies must have a plan in place to reverse this trend.

STEM fields by the numbers

The STEM field — consisting of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – notoriously lacks workforce diversity. According to statistics from Education Commission of the States, white and Asian males dominate these disciplines, making up 90 percent of the engineering workforce, 86 percent of the computing workforce and 84 percent of the advanced manufacturing workforce. 

Studies have shown that there is a large discrepancy between the current population and the state of STEM fields. U.S. News and World Report found that “African-American and Latino workers… represent 29 percent of the general workforce population, but just 16 percent of the advanced manufacturing workforce, 15 percent of the computing workforce and 12 percent of the engineering workforce.” Additionally, according to Education Commission of the States, women represent only 13 percent of the engineering workforce, 26 percent of the computing workforce and 9 percent of the advanced manufacturing workforce.

What it means to your company

This lack of workforce diversity can cause issues when hiring and maintaining employees within these areas. While careers in the STEM field are growing at a faster rate than any other sector, the workforce is aging. Nearly half of employees in engineering and advanced manufacturing are approaching retirement. Because the younger generation of working adults is more diverse than ever before, companies must be willing to hire and support this workforce.

Of course, sparking interest in STEM fields for minorities and women begins with education — they must be interested in obtaining degrees in these fields to pursue their careers down the line. However, there are steps that companies can take to appeal to the best potential employees of any race or gender.

Studies have shown that there is a large discrepancy between the current population and the state of STEM fields.  

What you can do about it

Creating an inclusive and welcoming workplace is the first (and largest) step that any company can take to attract the best possible talent in STEM fields. However, this does not necessarily mean that you must design an outdated diversity training workshop for your employees or analyze numbers and statics to create the perfect diversity formula. Sometimes, the best approach can be much more casual.

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, “interventions such as targeted college recruitment, mentoring programs, self-managed teams, and task forces have boosted diversity in businesses. Some of the most effective solutions aren't even designed with diversity in mind.”

Additionally, personal conversations are critical. Another article in the Harvard Business Review suggests that companies and their leadership, “talk openly with people, one-on-one, to learn about their experiences with bias, and share our own stories to build trust and make the topic safe for discussion.”

Learn more

There are countless research-backed strategies that can help boost diversity in any organization. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you can request a free trial of EBSCO’s Accel5™. This microlearning product features an entire diversity segment with lessons that are useful for leaders and employees alike. Get access to articles from top publishers, business books and videos from the best minds in the industry. These modules can be tailored to meet the needs of any company to help create a diverse and inclusive work environment.  

Learn About Accel5

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