Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

I'm currently reading Edward Teller's Memoirs.

Word cloud

Word cloud

Thursday, August 25, 2016

sySTEM of a downturn

A fascinating quote in today's Science:
“Of every 100 people who walk in [to earn a bachelor's degree], we have about eight who stay through getting a bachelor's degree in STEM and actually working in STEM. And for minority students, it's even worse. It really is dismal,” said Roni Ellington, associate professor of mathematics education at Morgan State University.
Wow, that sounds dire! We lose 92% of the talent!

Leaving aside the fact that the assertion is made without a link to statistical evidence or context on how the number was arrived at, there are two problems with this assertion:

1) Part of the "problem" is that most people with STEM degrees do not work in jobs classified as being in STEM. On any given day you have to roll the dice to see if the narrative is "See, people are leaving STEM!!1!!11!" or "See, STEM training makes you very versatile and prepares you both for STEM careers and alternative careers!"  Nobody ever says "Hmm, maybe it's because the economy doesn't need as many STEM professionals as the shills claim..."

2) Just a few years ago Science published an article in which people admitted that the retention rate in STEM is better than most other majors, and the rate at which people switch into STEM from other majors is higher than the rate at which people switch from STEM into other majors.  They also admitted that they had not examined this prior to 2013, proving that there is indeed a shortage of people with scientific reasoning abilities in the United States...at least among the sorts of people who compile statistics on STEM shortages.

But let's not let "facts" get in the way of a good "The sky is falling!" narrative.