3 responses to “STEM Recruiting Games Exposed”

  1. Stephen Trier

    Good post, and interesting study. One aspect of the study that was kind of buried is that the authors counted moving from engineering to management, even engineering management, as leaving STEM. I saw quite a few of my school colleagues make a beeline for management because of the higher pay. I also knew more than a few who started in engineering, then drifted into sales and marketing, often because they just didn’t enjoy engineering. (In school, many of those future salespeople had a knack for building support networks to get through the classwork.)

    I have a mixed feeling about not counting engineering management as STEM jobs. Not counting them emphasizes the levelling-off of pay that tends to happen to older engineers. As someone who has been a working engineer for a while, this is an issue that I don’t mind highlighting. On the flip side, a career path from STEM into management is so standard that not counting those jobs is guaranteed to create a picture of “we need more STEM education”, which in turn feeds the mill of hiring young, cheap engineers and undervaluing experienced ones.

    Not counting technical sales jobs, and for that matter patent attorney jobs, is also problematic. Sure, a salesman isn’t doing engineering, but the ones who do the best at selling me parts understand what those parts do, and they wouldn’t be able to do that without their STEM education. Furthermore, a degree in certain STEM fields is a license requirement for patent attorneys and agents, and they need that background to do their work.

    Anyway, it’s an interesting study, and telling regardless of the assumptions that were made. The 8% number is shocking, but in hindsight, perhaps about right. I’ve certainly seen a huge drop-off in the number of my fellow engineering and science majors who are still doing engineering or science. I didn’t realize it was this universal.

    Stephen

  2. slateraptor

    “…the argument that we are graduating too few people into STEM disciplines is one propagated by industry to keep wages low on the one hand but also to feed their desire to expect more and more from entry level employees and cut back on training that was standard in the past.”

    My thoughts in a nutshell. I’m liable to suspect that this whole STEM push is synthetically motivated for all the wrong reasons. Government and industry can say whatever they want, justified by whatever fabricated data set they publish, but actions speak louder than words and those who hold a genuine, self-motivated interest in a relevant STEM field are more than capable of seeing through the smoke and mirrors.

    “In school, many of those future salespeople had a knack for building support networks to get through the classwork.”

    Speaking of universal.

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