"If the American economy was the Titanic and the iceberg that sank the Titanic was the financial crisis, then STEM jobs would be the few available lifeboats rescuing passengers." That’s according to SmartAsset’s research team.
The financial software and data firm just completed its second annual analysis of Census Bureau data on the demographics of STEM employment in the 50 U.S. cities with the largest STEM workforces.
SmartAsset’s researchers found that overall, those who hold jobs in STEM tend to be a homogenous group of white males. Despite initiatives put in place by the federal government to increase diversity in STEM education (like the National Academic STEM Collaborative), the study found that a lack of diversity persists and is not uniformly distributed.
As the demand for tech jobs continues to rise—tech positions made up eight of the top 25 best jobs in the U.S. this year—business and government leaders are concerned that the majority of them won’t go to underrepresented minority workers, according to SmartAsset.
However, the researchers found that the existing data indicates there has been some improvement in the diversity of the STEM workforce overall. The national index this year was 58.89 compared to last year’s 53.50 out of a possible 100 points. SmartAsset declined to comment on whether or not this could be due to the uptick in diversity initiatives at tech companies over the past two years, because they said their study looked solely at the data.
It’s important to note that while SmartAsset used the same methodology as they did for last year’s analysis, this year's study is based on one year of census data, because of the switch from the Census Bureau’s three-year survey. That meant that instead of ranking 210 cities as they did last year, SmartAsset only compared 50 cities.
Index scores by city were based on the distribution of the workforce among the eight primary racial and ethnic groups tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as gender breakdowns for each. Each city was given a score out of a possible 100 points. Their final tables only show the four largest groups: Asian, white, Hispanic, and black. The more evenly spread a city’s workforce was among all eight groups, the higher the score, according to SmartAssets methodology.
That goes for tech hubs, too, according to Nick Wallace who completed the data analysis for this study. Silicon Valley’s neighbor San Francisco rose to 13th place from 29th, Silicon Alley’s New York leaped to second place from eighth. L.A.’s Silicon Beach climbed from ninth to fourth place this year.