Think STEM!

Guest Post from Elizabeth Phillips

Elizabeth Phillips is a retired high school biology teacher from Philadelphia, PA who is currently freelance writing about education and technology. She can be reached at

(Note from Linda: My mother was an engineer in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.  She never met another woman in her field. In my own experience, I was the only girl in my high school calculus class.  Today, girls often outnumber boys in advanced high school science and math classes. Yet they rarely choose STEM majors in college. Elizabeth writes about why both young men and young women should be thinking STEM as they head off to university.)

Why STEM Careers Are the Future of Our Country
As Noggin Strain has reported in the past, the media jumps at any chance to denigrate the triumphs of the public school system. They say bad news sells papers, and if that's the case, one has to wonder why the newspaper industry is in the shape it's in.

This is not to say that improvements can't be made – but unfortunately these types of stories create a self-fulfilling prophecy. If American parents and students assume STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professions will be filled by immigrants in the future, why would they pursue a STEM subject as a course of study?

Regardless of where American students rank, the facts are on your side if you decide to pursue a STEM career. Yes, the world will always need social workers, stockbrokers, and middle managers, but if you have an aptitude for math and science, you should pursue that interest with all of your efforts. Here are a few reasons why.

Better Pay
According to a 2009 survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, eight of the ten most wanted employees in the United States were those coming out of the STEM fields. Among these fields are accounting, computer engineering, and finance.

 Difficult, effort-requiring majors, to be certain, but the payoff is more than worth it. A glance at a comparison chart shows that STEM careers pay much more than their non-STEM competitors on average. While it's true that money isn't everything, it's certainly worth some consideration.

Lower Unemployment
The unemployment rate is dropping ever so slightly from its nadir of five years ago, but there's no guarantee that things will ever get back to the heady days of the early 2000s. What's interesting, however, is that this unemployment epidemic is largely outside the STEM field.

When you look at every job in the U.S., the problem is simply one of overpopulation. Too many people, not enough jobs. However, when you consider only STEM jobs and unemployed STEM graduates, you get a much brighter picture.

A Brighter Future
There was a time when a bachelor's degree in nearly any field would be enough to secure employment. Today, even law school graduates are moving back in with their parents, unable to find work.

And competition is only increasing – STEM majors boast a 40% college dropout rate. What you decide to study in school is a huge decision – and when deciding which route to take, it’s helpful to consider what employers are looking for before you sign up for a major.

Why STEM Careers Are the Future
The answer, in a word, is technology. In a recent news story from Verizon, their charitable division sponsored a contest called the Innovative App Challenge, encouraging middle and high school students to come up with the best new mobile applications.

Innovation and creativity is something that employers, colleges and companies value. The more businesses that support technological advancements, the more opportunities people with an Internet in STEM have.

Schools across the country are implementing science and technology at the elementary levels. STEM careers are not only the future of our country, they are the present. As long as we have parents, teachers, and students who understand this, the future should be an exciting time indeed.