There’s so much written about STEM education and employment that it’s easy to be confused as to what is fact and what is myth. Here is our short attempt to distinguish between the two. We’ve provided short answers with links to more reading on the topic if you’re interested.

What are counted as STEM occupations? STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, but there is no standard definition of STEM jobs. The US Dept of Commerce groups STEM jobs into three broad categories that include professional and technical support: 1) computer science and mathematics, 2) engineering, and 3) life and physical sciences.

Fact or Fiction: there is a STEM skills shortage and we can’t find enough workers to fill it.

There is a bit of truth to this statement – and a bit of exaggeration. Some STEM fields such as aerospace engineering are projected to lose jobs while others, especially in the “hot” IT fields are going to struggle to meet demand. STEM contains too much variation to make such a blanket statement.

Fact or Fiction: the vast majority of college graduates with STEM degrees have STEM jobs.

Fiction. Nearly ¾ of grads with degrees in STEM fields are not working in STEM jobs.

Fact or Fiction: there are more women in the US with degrees in computer science than ever before.

Fiction. In 1985 women made up 37% of computer science college grads – as of 2012 that number had declined to 18%.