NSF Release Science and Engineering Indicators Report

NSF Release Science and Engineering Indicators Report

Last week, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released its Science and Engineering Indicators Report, which is issued every even-numbered year. The report applauds the U.S. for its role in bringing together nations and different disciplines and sectors to encourage growth in global science and engineering (S&E). The report also calls attention to the S&E workforce challenge currently facing the U.S. and recommends addressing systemic inequalities in education that are leading to an inadequate domestic workforce.


Women and certain minority groups—Blacks, Hispanics, and Native American or Alaska Natives—are underrepresented in the STEM workforce relative to their proportion within the U.S. population. Women make up a greater proportion of the STEM workforce with at least a bachelor’s degree than of the [skilled technical workforce (STW)]. In contrast, the underrepresentation of persons from minority groups in the STEM workforce is largely driven by their underrepresentation among STEM workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher. These groups are more represented in the STW.”


The report also addresses how COVID-19 has impacted the global S&E enterprise, specifically in intensifying the existing education and workforce challenge. “In the United States, the pandemic exacerbated pre-existing socioeconomic differences, such as a lack of access to computers and broadband at home for low-income and some minority students. The unemployment rate of STEM workers was lower than that of non-STEM workers, but women in STEM experienced higher unemployment than their male counterparts. Lack of access to technology for online learning was reported at higher rates for some minority groups. Enrollment at community colleges that serve low-income students declined sharply.”


The report also indicates where the U.S. stands in relation to the global S&E enterprise, noting that “Global research and development (R&D) performance is concentrated in a few countries, with the United States performing the most (27% of global R&D in 2019), followed by China (22%), Japan (7%), Germany (6%), and South Korea (4%).” While the S&E enterprise has increased its capacity globally, the concentration of R&D activity is shifting away from the United States and Europe to continues in East-Southeast Asia and South Asia. It’s also noted that China and India are continuing to increase their S&E activities, and while the U.S. continues to grow its actual federal R&D dollars, the proportion of total U.S. R&D funded by the federal government has decreased by 10% over 9 years.


To read the full report visit: https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsb20221.

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