The biggest myth about STEM jobs

Staunch STEM champions may overlook how much variation there can be for salaries within individual majors, Steve Lohr reports for the New York Times.

Recent reports suggest that technology and engineering majors experience greater professional success than their science and mathematics counterparts, Lohr adds.

Computer science and electrical engineering top the list of median salary for recent graduates, and computer skills like data mining and statistical analysis are among the most in-demand skills of 2017. However, other STEM majors like biochemistry are among the lowest-paid majors, according to a report by Glassdoor.

And in 2024, nearly three-quarters of STEM job growth will be in computer science, while only 3% will be in physical sciences, according to analysis by Edward Lazowska, a computer science professor at the University of Washington.

If we generalize the success of technology and engineering majors to the STEM field as a whole, we risk misleading young people, warns Michael Teitelbaum, an expert on science education and policy.

Developing tech skills across all STEM majors may be one way to prepare science and math majors for the competitive labor market, Lohr writes. The Insight Data Science Fellows Program, for example, helps traditional scientists develop the interviewing and computer skills necessary to break into Silicon Valley, he adds.

Soft skills, hard skills, missing skills—More ideas for tackling the skills gap

The University of California, Berkeley is establishing data science as an interdisciplinary foundation, says David Culler, the interim dean for data sciences. Berkeley's new data science division launched a "Foundations of Data Sciences" course that attracted more than a thousand students from over 50 majors, Lohr writes. According to Culler, the new division "mirrors what is happening in the larger economy" (Lohr, New York Times, 11/14).

Also see: 5 steps to building a co-curricular major map


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