US lags behind even Portugal, Turkey, Spain in STEM Grads

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When it comes to churning out young workers with college degrees in math and science, the United States lags well behind other advanced democracies, ranking just behind Turkey and Spain, according to a new analysis.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development analyzed education rates in its member countries and found that the U.S. is below average in the relative number of 25- to 34-year-old workers who have a degree in so-called STEM fields such as science, engineering, computing and statistics.
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<p>That’s a potential problem because research has shown that innovation in any economy depends on how many workers have such degrees, said Ronald Ehrenberg, director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute.
“It is something that we should be concerned about,” Ehrenberg said
There are about 1,472 math and science grads for every 100,000 employed 25- to 34-year-olds in the United States, according to the data. The compares to more than 3,555 in Korea, which leads the chart, according to the OECD figures based on 2009 data.

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Bottom</a> Line - US workers behind Korea, UK, Germany, 19 others in science and math</p>

<p>I don't see why this is a problem at all, other than the fact the U.S. companies can't get more cheap labor.</p>

<p>Of course, like most articles, it fails to make a distinction between different STEM majors, whose labor market conditions are vastly different from each other.</p>

<p>Well duh. Is this supposed to be news? For forever ago the only degree deemed worth and justifiable in developing countries was engineering or medicine. Ask anyone from Turkey, Iran, India, China....and on and on...engineering. It's only been in wealthier nations such as the US where people feel they have the luxury to major in the arts and not worry about starving (not to mention, basics of infrastructure come first in a developing nation over such things as literature, arts, therapy, social services).</p>

<p>Please point me to one thing the United States does to encourage high school kids to major in a STEM field.</p>

<p>Why should anyone be encouraged to go into a STEM field over the humanities? People should go into whatever suits the attitudes and talents and interests, not be forced into STEM under some geeky, dorky assumption that STEM is more important. Society needs all talents and interests. Like mini, I don't see the problem, at all.</p>

<p>I have friends who work at the DOD and they have a difficult time finding US citizens to work on projects at colleges. I was surprised by that but he told me he needed a department of x amount of students and they had to turn down several schools because of it.</p>

<p>The Korean culture doesn't exactly lend itself to kids majoring in Philosophy or Theology...kids have more choices here.</p>

<p>What the article fails to consider is the US is HOW much bigger than these other countries. How about if we look at the total number of graduates in STEM in the US vs Spain.</p>

<p>The fact that we have the luxury to have kids major in other areas is already the sign that we are a more advanced society. We can afford to have art, and music, and literature, and so forth. Who wants to be in a society where STEM is overly valued? That's what's called a developing society, not a developed one.</p>

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<p>Research opportunities as an undergraduate.</p>

<p>The National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program provides a lot of paid summer internships for STEM students, usually at different universities. I haven't seen something comparable in the arts or in business.</p>

<p>Yes, thank you, BCEagle, the REU program is great. However, we never heard of it until my son was already in college. I do agree it is a good program. </p>

<p>I think there was a federal structure built for some scholarships for STEM majors, but as far as I know, they just never got funded.</p>

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“I am a soldier, so my son can be a farmer, so his son can be a poet.”

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<p>Yes, I do agree that art history is as important as engineering. However, when I read articles bemoaning that we don't have enough scientists and engineers, I do wonder how they think we're going to get more of them.</p>

<p>Also, there were three kids in my son's high school class who started out as engineering majors and they have all three changed majors because they couldn't cut it.</p>

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<p>It's at the college level and more for sophomores and juniors but the idea is to benefit research and the student has to bring some useful skills to the table. I think that it would be hard to implement this at the high-school level.</p>

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<p>You could argue that NASA is a big ad for STEM for high-school and younger students. Locally, the Crista McAuliffe Planetarium is a big draw for schoolkids. It may be that government doesn't have to be a large, direct player in encouraging students to go into STEM. There are many organizations and companies with efforts to encourage middle-school and high-school students to consider STEM careers.</p>

<p>I think one could just compare the budget for NSF and NEA to see where federal supposrt goes. I believe they both have educational component funding secondary education. Take it one step further compare NSF and NIH funding. It gets interesting.</p>

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<p>Articles that lump all STEM majors together in terms of the labor market are a disservice, since the different STEM majors' labor markets are significantly different.</p>

<p>For example, biology is the most popular STEM major, but its graduates have poor job and career prospects at the bachelor's degree level, and not all that good at the PhD level (yes, a lot of biology majors are pre-med, but most do not get into any medical school). That indicates that there is not exactly a shortage of biology graduates.</p>

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<p>One other common thread to the abovementioned societies with the reserved exception of India is that they have had long histories of being ruled by absolute rulers...whether monarchs/ayatollahs in Iran, generals in Turkey after coups, or Communist China. </p>

<p>Even India has had issues with press censorship as shown by their attempts to impose their censorship norms on the internet...which I hope is soundly rejected by the rest of the world. </p>

<p>As for Portugal, they've only been freed of a decades long religiously based dictatorship which only ended in 1974 and not only suppressed the humanities/social sciences, but also any science which was perceived as a threat to the Catholic social order as their former authoritarian rulers perceived it. From '74 onward....they've been trying to play catch-up in all of those areas to make up for the decades they've been severely restricted by dogma from their Catholic dictatorial rulers. </p>

<p>Also, let's not forget that Spain was ruled by a military dictator from the late 1930's until 1975. </p>

<p>In such societies, one reason why STEM is emphasized is that they're far less likely to expose young minds to "dangerous ideas" which could be antithetical to acceptance of authoritarian/totalitarian rule or aspects of it than the humanities and social sciences. That is....unless they are severely reduced to potted boiled down versions acceptable to the authoritarian/totalitarian rulers. </p>

<p>Incidentally, this aspect is one big reason why one side of my family tends to disapprove of college majors that are too vocational/pre-professional in their emphasis or kids who solely/mostly focus on that aspect.</p>

<p>Right. So, really, I have no desire to emulate societies that are all STEM's-the-bomb, since they're generally just emerging out of totalitarian lifestyles and are well behind the US in infrastructure and democracy.</p>

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<p>On the other hand, I never understood why there's a cultural tendency in the US to disparage academically high achieving students.....especially STEM students as "Nerds, Geeks, etc". </p>

<p>It smacks a bit too much of the anti-intellectual streak without our mainstream K-12 schools and our social culture which IMHO is the real reason for our educational issues. </p>

<p>It's really funny when the only time one really escapes such negative cultural influences is when one heads off to a respectable/elite college where being an academic high achiever or otherwise openly "smart" is actually prized....not despised by the prevailing campus culture. </p>

<p>Most college classmates remarked that the day they graduated high school and thus, finished their mainstream K-12 experience was the happiest day of their lives as K-12 felt more like a prison where they cannot express their true authentic self. </p>

<p>This aspect is one thing we Americans should watch out for....as it is a big drag on maintaining the very democratic society with high standards that we hold so dear.</p>

<p>We do not praise academic achievement but rather sports, money and hollywood.</p>

<p>I can't make it add up, though. I read that we need all these science and engineer people for the future.</p>

<p>But I don't see commercials on tv or in magazines trying to glamorize or attract kids to these majors. I don't see materials being sent to schools, or to science and math teachers to get them to recruit kids to these majors. I don't see scholarships for high school kids to go into these majors. I don't even see lots of job openings for graduates in these majors.</p>

<p>Maybe the powers that be actually are happier recruiting engineers from other countries and paying them less?</p>

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On the other hand, I never understood why there's a cultural tendency in the US to disparage academically high achieving students.....especially STEM students as "Nerds, Geeks, etc".

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<p>I'm not disparaging academically high-achieving students as nerds, geeks, etc. I'm disparaging the kind of people who think that STEM is more important than humanities as nerds and geeks. BTW, I was a math major and married a biology major.</p>