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ERIC Number: ED545309
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jul
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 16
Leaving STEM: STEM Ph.D. Holders in Non-STEM Careers. Issue Brief
Turk-Bicakci, Lori; Berger, Andrea
American Institutes for Research
During the last few decades, national, state, and institutional-level initiatives have been implemented to build and expand the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce by recruiting and retaining groups of individuals that have been traditionally underrepresented in STEM in higher education. The underlying theory of action is that individuals who earn STEM degrees aspire to careers in STEM. But to what degree does this assumption hold true? This brief examines the extent to which those who have committed the most time and resources to a STEM education, STEM Ph.D. holders, do not work in STEM careers. It focuses on understanding who is leaving STEM and the type of work they were doing if not in a STEM field. It examines a representative sample of all STEM Ph.D. holders who worked in non-STEM careers and looks at differences by gender for Black, Hispanic, Asian, and White STEM Ph.D. holders. The authors pose two main research questions: (1) To what extent did STEM Ph.D. holders work in non-STEM careers? and (2) In what type of work were STEM Ph.D. holders in non-STEM careers engaging? Key findings include: (1) About one of every six employed STEM Ph.D. holders reported working outside of STEM; (2) Female Ph.D. holders were more likely to leave STEM compared with male Ph.D. holders; Black Ph.D. holders were more likely to leave STEM compared with other racial/ethnic groups; and (3) Among STEM Ph.D. holders who left STEM, Black females, Black males, and Hispanic and White females were more likely compared with other groups to be employed in the government sector; Asian females, Asian males, and Hispanic and White males were more likely employed in the private, for-profit sector. A technical appendix presents: Classification of Non-STEM Careers.
American Institutes for Research. 1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007. Tel: 202-403-5000; Fax: 202-403-5001; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: American Institutes for Research
IES Grant or Contract Numbers: HRD-1029477