The acronym STEM literally means Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. This abbreviation refers to the set of scientific-technological disciplines and the related fields of study. The term STEM, originally SMET, was coined in the United States in the early 2000s.

This concept was designed to identify a group of disciplines necessary for the innovation and prosperity of the country. The acronym STEM spreads after a conference of the National Science Foundation (NSF), a US government agency that deals with basic research and training in all (non-medical) fields of science and engineering.

The term takes hold at school and university level: it becomes the matrix for the adaptation of training courses in order to prepare students for the rapidly changing job market.

After more than 20 years, in the report on the Profile and Occupational Condition of graduates drawn up by Almalaurea*, the university performance and employment outcomes of STEM graduates are compared with those of non-STEM paths and are observed by focusing on the main differences by gender and by disciplinary group.

The report shows that five years after graduation, STEM graduates perform well in the labor market test, but with deep gender differences. An indicator of degree effectiveness was constructed to evaluate the correspondence between studies completed and the profession carried out: this is a combination of a formal request for the job title asked by the Company and skills learned at the university. It emerges that:

  • 61.8% of STEM graduates consider the concepts learned “effective or very effective”. (Among the other graduates, the share is equal to 58.6%)
  • 29.4% believe it to be “quite effective”;
  • The remaining 8.7% consider it to be of “little or no effect at all”.

Even today, STEM degree courses are mainly attended by male students. The world of digital counseling, however, can create new opportunities to bridge the gender gap.


*Rapporto Almalaurea 2019

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