Statistics at NCSES
Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering
Women, persons with disabilities, and three racial and ethnic groups—blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians—are underrepresented in science and engineering. Underrepresentation may vary by field of study or occupation.
A wealth of information detailing the participation of these groups in science and engineering is available in the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) biennial report Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering. The report provides a broad base of statistical information for these underrepresented groups relating to enrollment in higher education, degrees earned, institutions attended, and financial support, as well as employment status, occupations, sectors, and salaries. Current and trend data are available in the report.
NSF reporting on this topic is mandated through the Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act (Public Law 96–516), as a way of tracking—and improving—the participation of women and other underrepresented groups in science and engineering.
Stats at a Glance
- Women earn a smaller proportion of degrees in many science and engineering fields of study, although their participation has risen over the past 20 years.
- Women's participation is greatest in psychology (over 70 percent of degrees in that field were awarded to women).
- Women's participation is lowest in computer science and in engineering (18 to 28 percent of degrees in those fields were awarded to women).
- Underrepresented minorities' shares of bachelor's and master's degrees in science and engineering have risen over the past 20 years.
- Since 1991, the greatest rise in the share of bachelor's degrees in science and engineering earned by underrepresented minorities has been in psychology, the social sciences, and computer sciences.
- Since 2000, underrepresented minorities' shares in engineering and the physical sciences have been flat, and participation in mathematics has dropped.
- Among scientists and engineers, unemployment rates are higher for blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, and Asians than for whites, and the rate is higher for Asian females than for Asian males.
- Among employed scientists and engineers, women are more likely than men to be employed part time. White women are the most likely to be employed part time.
- More than one-half of scientists and engineers who report having disabilities say they became disabled at age 40 or older. Relatively few of those with disabilities have been disabled since birth.
How does the United States stack up against its global counterparts in science and engineering? The Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System (SESTAT) is a unique source of information that helps to measure U.S. competitiveness.
SESTAT contains information on the education and employment of the college-educated U.S. science and engineering workforce, compiling data from three surveys—the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG), the National Survey of Recent College Graduates (NSRCG), and the Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR). These three surveys together gather data from more than 100,000 respondents.
SESTAT provides a profile of scientists and engineers in the United States, tying together the pipeline from education to occupation. Other surveys can provide degree counts or numbers of workers, but not both.
Information from SESTAT is gathered in two Congressionally mandated reports—Science and Engineering Indicators and Women, Minorities and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering—and in InfoBriefs, short reports that are published by NCSES. This information is used by policy makers, other federal agencies, academia, and private industry.
SESTAT data are also available for download in public use files or through the SESTAT Data Tool, which allows users to generate their own data tables.
Stats at a Glance
Nearly 22 million persons classified as scientists and engineers were employed in the United States as of October 2010: about 5.4 million in science and engineering (S&E) occupations, 7 million in S&E-related occupations, and 9.5 million in occupations other than S&E.
- Women are 45% of the overall S&E workforce and hold 28% of S&E jobs.
- Sixty-seven percent of psychologists are women.
- Eighty-seven percent of those in engineering occupations are men.
- Seventy percent of scientists and engineers in S&E occupations are white.
- Asian scientists and engineers are the next largest racial or ethnic group, constituting 18% of those employed in S&E occupations.
More data from the 2010 SESTAT are available in Employment and Educational Characteristics of Scientists and Engineers (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf13311/).