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ImageA new national survey highlights how U.S. women and minority scientists were discouraged from pursuing STEM Careers.


40% of today's women and underrepresented minority chemists and chemical engineers in the United States say they were discouraged from pursuing a STEM career (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) at some point in their lives, according to a new Bayer Corporation survey.

The study, commissioned by the Bayer Corporation, a US subsidiary of Bayer AG, the German international health care, nutrition and high-tech materials group, was conducted by Pittsburgh-based research firm Campos Inc., and polled a total of 1,226 Caucasian women, Asian women, African-American men, African-American women, Hispanic men, Hispanic women, American Indian men and American Indian women.

Colleges and Professors Falling Short

According to the survey, 60% of respondents cited U.S. colleges as the leading place in the American education system where discouragement happens, while 44% saw their college professors as the individuals who were most likely responsible for the discouragement.

The U.S. K-12 education system was also deemed as falling short with survey respondents on average giving it a "D" for the job it does to encourage minorities to study STEM subjects and a "D+" for girls.

60% of respondents cited U.S. colleges as the leading place in the American education system where discouragement happens, while 44% saw their college professors as the individuals who were most likely responsible.


The Bayer Facts of Science Education XIV survey polled 1,226 female, African-American, Hispanic and American Indian chemists and chemical engineers about their childhood, academic and workplace experiences that play a role in attracting and retaining women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.

"If we want to achieve true diversity in America's STEM workforce, we must first understand the root causes of under-representation and the ongoing challenges these groups face," said Greg Babe, President and CEO, Bayer Corporation. "We want to knock down barriers. If we can do that, we'll be able to develop the attitudes, behaviours, opportunities and resources that lead to success."

Key Findings from the Survey

Some of the key findings from the study included:

  • Regardless of gender, race or ethnicity, interest in science begins in early childhood. Nearly 60% of the respondents say they first became interested in science by age 11.
  • Image More than three-quarters (77%) say significant numbers of women and underrepresented minorities are missing from the U.S. STEM workforce today because they were not identified, encouraged or nurtured to pursue STEM studies early on.
  • The top three causes/contributors to under-representation in STEM include lack of quality Science and Maths education programs in poorer school districts (75%), persistent stereotypes that say STEM isn't for girls or minorities (66%) and financial issues related to the cost of education (53%), according to the survey respondents.
  • Science teachers play a larger role than parents in stimulating and sustaining interest in science. During the elementary school years, 70% of the respondents say teachers have the most influence. During high school, 88% say teachers do.
  • Nearly two-thirds (62%) of those polled say under-representation exists in their company's/organizations/institution's workforce.
  • Leading workplace barriers for the female and minority chemists and chemical engineers include managerial bias (40 %), company/ organizational/ institutional bias (38 percent) and a lack of professional development (36%), little or no access to networking opportunities (35%), and a lack of promotional/advancement opportunities (35%).
  • Nearly three-quarters (70%) of the chemists/chemical engineers say it is harder for women to succeed in their field than it is for men, while more than two-thirds (67%) think it is more difficult for minorities to succeed than it is for non-minorities.
  • Across the board, respondents give their companies /organizations /institutions a "C" for having women and underrepresented minorities in senior positions to serve as role models and mentors for the younger employees.
'Interest in Science is Genderless and Colourless'

"This and previous Bayer Facts surveys confirm something I've long known – that interest in science is genderless and colourless," said Dr. Mae C. Jemison, astronaut, medical doctor, chemical engineer and Bayer's long-time Making Science Make Sense® spokesperson, about the survey.

According to the Jemison, the first Black astronaut in the United States, "all children have an innate interest in science and the world around them. But for many children, that interest hits roadblocks along an academic system that is still not blind to gender or colour.

"These roadblocks have nothing to do with intellect, innate ability or talent," she said. "On the contrary, they are the kinds of larger, external socio-cultural and economic forces that students have no control over. As students, they cannot change the fact that they do not have access to quality science and math education in their schools. But adults can. And we must."

Formalized in 1995, Making Science Make Sense is Bayer's national award-winning initiative to advance science literacy through hands-on, inquiry-based science learning, employee volunteerism and public education.

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