Study: Women, Blacks Most Likely to Leave STEM Careers

July 9, 2014

One in five women and one in five black Ph.D. recipients in science, technology, engineering or math leave those fields for careers outside STEM, according to a new report from the American Institutes for Research. That's compared to one in six STEM Ph.D.s over all who leave the sciences for other careers. Women of all races are also significantly less likely to report research and development as a primary work activity. Lori Turk-Bicakci, lead author, said such "brain drain" restricts the potential advantages gained from diverse perspectives in STEM. Data was drawn from the National Science Foundation's longitudinal Survey of Doctorate Recipients; most of those surveyed have had their degrees for 10 years or more. The report says that 40 percent of those who leave STEM work in the private, for-profit sector. The report doesn't specify how many Ph.D. recipients working in academe in particular left the STEM fields.

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