The STEM2D philosophy makes learning more exciting, interesting, meaningful, and relevant. It also fosters inquiring minds, logical reasoning, creative thinking, problem solving, and collaboration. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technical society, all students need to develop these cross-cutting skills and capabilities at levels beyond what was considered acceptable in the past. These are the capabilities and skills that prepare students to become the future innovators, educators, researchers, and community leaders. STEM2D builds strong: Thinking skills: Critical and creative thinking helps young people solve problems, detect mistakes, gather relevant information, and understand how different parts or systems interact with each other. Communication skills: Communication skills are important for working well with others, listening, and conveying information clearly, both orally and in writing. Communication skills include technical writing, public speaking, interpersonal communication, and the ability to explain difficult concepts simply. In addition, the STEM2D approach results in smarter, more competitive, more productive, and engaged global citizens who: Make informed decisions about health and safety Are better able to participate in public policy decisions and debates Manage daily lives that increasingly rely on technology Find solutions for challenges that face our global population Finally, the global demand for STEM talent is growing. Experts indicated that almost all of the 30 fastest-growing occupations in the next decade will require at least some background in STEM. Between 2014 and 2024, the number of STEM jobs will grow 17 percent, compared with 12 percent for non-STEM jobs. This represents an increase of about 1 million new jobs. Demand for design professionals is also high and growing. For example, between 2010 and 2014 design employment grew by 21.7% compared to 6.1% for the UK economy as a whole.

Why Women in STEM2D?

There is a lack of gender diversity in STEM2D fields. For example, although women in the United States made up 57.2 percent of all professional workers in 2015, they comprised only 46.6 percent of science professionals, 24.7 percent of computer and math professionals, and 15.1 percent of engineering and architecture professionals. The scarcity of women in STEM2D fields is a long-standing and persistent problem. And, in advanced manufacturing, women made up only 10 percent of the workforce in 2001 and 2014. Other countries across the globe see similar statistics. For many girls who start out strong in mathematics and science, interest wanes along the way. Clear evidence supports that girls and young women receive social cues—regularly reinforced in conscious and subconscious ways by parents, teachers, university professors, and even managers on the job—that they cannot compete with male counterparts and, therefore, should not pursue their goals in STEM fields. The result is what is often referred to as a leaky pipeline, in which talented girls eventually steer away from careers in STEM and pursue work in fields where they will receive more positive reinforcement and do not have to fight as hard to carve out their place in the world. It is our belief that STEM2D awareness, exposure, and understanding will serve girls and young women well.

The Diversity of STEM2D Careers

STEM2D careers, as well as those in the associated health and healthcare fields, cover a broad spectrum of occupations. All require workers to use their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, or math to understand how the world works and to solve problems. A STEM2D career isn’t only for people who have post-secondary degrees. Rather, STEM2D entry-level educational and training requirements vary greatly. Of the fastest-growing STEM2D occupations, nearly half require a two-year Associate’s degree, certificate, or the completion of an apprenticeship and pay an average of 10 percent higher than non-STEM2D jobs with similar education requirements. A very small number require either some college but no degree, or a secondary-school diploma or equivalent. The remainder of STEM2D occupations require a three- to four-year Bachelor’s degree. More technical and advanced jobs, including those in medicine or research, usually require additional education and training, as well as a professional or advanced degree. Professionals in STEM occupations generally enjoy higher average salaries than those employed in non-STEM jobs. In 1970, STEM workers earned 12 percent more than non-STEM workers. By 2012, STEM workers earned 21 percent more. Mean annual earnings remain higher for STEM jobs than non-STEM professional or related occupations; however, within each STEM field, there is wide variation. img src= https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57c06e5a29687f71b6ac53c7/t/596992c746c3c49c0e72ed35/1500091085805/STEM+salaries.png Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016. Higher wages for STEM workers can be seen across all occupations and at every education level, a trend that remains consistent across time. In addition, growing demand for STEM professionals results in a tight labor market and typically low unemployment levels. For example, in September 2016, the unemployment rate for all occupations was 4.8%, while the rate for architecture and engineering occupations was 1.9%. img src= https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57c06e5a29687f71b6ac53c7/t/5969931003596e837b52256e/1500091156178/chart.png Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016. Footnotes available in the [SPARK WiSTEM2D Resource][1]. [1]: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7wmpwzonp1v0pvi/STEM2D-00-SPARK%20WiSTEM2D.pdf?dl=0