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Article: “Proportion of US STEM Workforce Falls and Federal Funding May Not Be Helping”

Redundancy and Lack of Metrics in Many Programs Found

Two recent announcements suggest that federal funding for programs to increase the number of graduates in STEM aren’t working as well as they should.

According to a 2012 U.S. General Accounting Office report, various federal agencies spend $3 billion on 209 programs to feed the STEM talent pipeline in the US decline from 5.3% to 4.9% since 2000, the first decade that has happened since 1950. The GAO pointed to “agencies” limited use of performance measures and evaluations” and their “varied … ability to provide reliable output measures.” The non-profit Population Reference Bureau study of the 2010 census says it was the first decade since 1950 to see a shrinking STEM proportion of the workforce.

At the same time, a MentorNet survey last month found that 93.5% of our proteges have completed their degrees in STEM fields, and 89% since 2007 have completed or expect to, including AS, BS, MS and Ph.D. Furthermore, 68% are women. Beyond the obvious power of mentoring and the generosity of our mentors to help students succeed, we attribute these strong results to our tradition of measuring outcomes.

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