Skip to main content

Houston a Leading City for Diversity in STEM Jobs

Published Nov 24, 2020 by A.J. Mistretta

Collaboration

Houston, long a hub for engineering talent, has been working in recent years to develop its tech workforce. Collective employment in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields totals nearly 80,000 in the City of Houston, which is also one of the most diverse STEM workforces in the country, according to a new report. 

Financial tech company SmartAsset’s latest list of the top U.S. cities for diversity in STEM ranks Houston No. 7 ahead of Dallas and Los Angeles. 
U.S. STEM employment has grown by nearly 80% over the past 30 years, according to data from Pew Research Center. But the sector continues to lack diversity on the whole, with Blacks and Hispanics accounting for just 16% of the STEM workforce nationwide. 

SmartAsset takes a closer look at racial and gender breakdowns of workers in the 35 cities with the largest STEM workforces to compile its annual report. The 2020 report found that white men still fill the majority of U.S. STEM jobs. But cities such as Houston are making inroads toward diversification. 

Metro Houston has a STEM workforce of roughly 300,000 and about 80,000 STEM jobs are located within the City of Houston itself. While just 30% of the city’s STEM workers are women, Houston has the third-best race/ethnicity index score in the study: nearly 20% of STEM workers are Hispanic/Latino, while another 20% are Asian and more than 8% are Black. 

To find the best cities for diversity in STEM, SmartAsset analyzed data for the 35 cities in the county with the largest STEM workforces, looking at both racial and gender diversity. Those two indexes were averaged to create the final score used to rank the cities. Data for both metrics came from the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. 
 

See the latest employment data for the Houston region and learn more about STEM talent.

Related News

Aerospace & Aviation

NASA Administrator Underscores Houston’s Crucial Role in the Future of Aerospace

12/18/20
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussed how the agency has persevered through the pandemic and what is on the horizon for the aerospace industry, including Houston’s role, at the Partnership’s inaugural State of Space event. Home to one of NASA’s largest R&D facilities, Houston has been an epicenter for human space exploration. Since the historic Apollo missions, Houston has grown, innovated and pioneered many advancements and technologies that have changed the world. "Despite an economically challenging year, Houston's aerospace industry continues to flourish," said Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey. "With some projecting the commercial space industry to become a trillion-dollar business over the next 20 years, Space City will continue to lead in aerospace innovation." Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer kicked off the program noting the significant of last month’s 20-year anniversary of continuous human habitation in space. He went on to underscore Houston’s role to the U.S. space program and recent initiatives.  The Johnson Space Center is working on the Artemis program’s Orion crew capsule, which will take humans to the lunar surface for the first time since the Apollo program in 1972, including the first woman. It is also working on the Gateway, a small space station orbiting the moon that will allow for the redeployment of human landers.  “All of these things position Houston to be a leader and a focal point for this new commercial space ecosystem, which is national and global in nature,” said Geyer.  A point later underscored by Bridenstine during his keynote address.  "We are very fortunate to have a center like Johnson in a city like Houston — a city that produces talent, that has an amazing workforce, a dedication to education and to the STEM fields,” said Bridenstine.  He went on to discuss the commercialization of space and the exciting projects underway, including returning man to the Moon and later Mars, through bipartisan efforts.  During his 30-month tenure as NASA Administrator, Bridenstine has led America’s most serious push to put astronauts on the moon since the Apollo era. His vision for NASA has been to end the partisan divides of the past and bring together interdisciplinary teams to create sustainable programs for decades, and generations, to come. The scientific discoveries undertaken through space exploration have tremendous impact to our life here on earth.  When asked about Houston’s potential for attracting future commercial space business, Bridenstine emphasized the importance that Mission Control has had, and will continue to have, in the next era of space exploration.  "The Johnson Space Center is quite well positioned for attracting a lot of commercial industry and international partners," said Bridenstine.  The missions of tomorrow – to the moon, to Mars and beyond – are being planned today by scientists and engineers who call Houston home.   To learn more about Houston's aerospace and aviation industry, click here.   
Read More
Education

Experiences, Engagement Key to Career Exploration

12/11/20
Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, Texas students entering ninth grade could choose to complete the academic and course requirements for one of five endorsements: science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM); business and industry; public services; arts and humanities; and multidisciplinary. A student’s chosen endorsement has long-lasting implications on their educational and career pathways; courses they take in high school matter and set the stage for the education, skills training, and careers they will pursue throughout their lives. But the traditional path from K-12 school, to post-secondary school, and ultimately to a long career at one job is becoming less and less common. Students need to be better informed of the options available to them for getting into as many opportunities as possible. Education providers, organizations and employers can assist students along their path from ‘cradle to career’ and as they make career decisions.  Laura Brennan, director of Texas OnCourse, and Victoria Chen, co-founder and executive director of BridgeYear, shared during an UpSkill Works forum held in December some of the tools, curricula and best practices they’ve developed and observed for boosting career awareness and career exploration among middle and high school students. Bryant Black, the Partnership’s director of regional workforce development, hosted the conversation.   Texas OnCourse supports students along the pathway from middle school to high school to success beyond high school. It was created by the Texas state legislature to improve college and career advising, and support students in critical decision-making around high school, college and career planning. It currently is an initiative of the University of Texas but will become part of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in January 2021, where it will further the board’s mission of ensuring quality advising for students. Texas OnCourse provides career awareness curricula and tools to widen the scope of careers middle school students see or understand. It also helps teachers better support students along their path to college and career readiness. Its student-focused online tools include games and quizzes grounded in workforce data. Texas OnCourse has an online training platform (Texas OnCourse Academy) for advising professionals involved in guiding students to college and career success. It also has focused on how to help educators implement tools and share best practices across the state. Middle school is a critical time for students to explore careers as they prepare to select endorsements. It is a time when students usually form their career identities; by high school, students typically have gravitated towards one industry, Chen told the audience.  BridgeYear, an organization that connects underserved youth to careers and educational pathways that provide economic stability and independence, grew out of observations co-founders Victoria Chen and Victoria Doan made while working as high school college counselors at Sharpstown High School. Chen shared that many students had unrealistic expectations of the amount of education needed to start specific careers, limited knowledge of the breadth of career options in the economy, and little understanding of what individuals in given careers did day-to-day. BridgeYear takes a hands-on approach to career exploration. Through its Career Test Drive® fairs – before the COVID-19 pandemic led to limited building capacities and social distancing measures – students could try out the tools and skills needed for various careers in-person. This summer, BridgeYear re-imagined its fair model and created kits, which students and educators can order, that contain hands-on activities relating to two high-growth, in-demand careers. The test-drives, Chen said, give students “something tangible they can react to” as they consider whether a career option fits their interests. Chen and Brennan, a former high school advisor, discussed the importance of setting up college and career readiness as a unified idea in students’ minds because preparing for college and preparing for a career should not be an either/or decision. College and career readiness programs (and educational partners) seem to be at their best when educators are able to take the time and effort to understand the wants and needs of their students. Brennan has seen the greatest impact of Texas OnCourse’s work with district-level buy-in from the middle school curriculum to the high school counseling content, and when counselors, educators and school/district leadership are aligned towards clear goals around college and career readiness. “We’ve really been focused on how to encourage more systemic adoption [and] how to get everyone to create a more unified experience for that student who’s going through from middle school to the high school,” she said. “We’ve seen districts that have taken really innovative approaches to connecting the middle school educators and making sure that experience is seamless for students.” BridgeYear’s strongest school partners are those that have examined every type of student and every type of post-secondary goal their students have and know the suite of programs and services within their districts that can help their students achieve these goals. The schools that set up the most students for success after high school have a range of programs and interventions that might specialize in different aspects of college or career exploration.   “One program cannot fit all the needs of our students,” Chen said. But the work to bring students into the workforce and help them sustain successful careers does not stop when high school ends. Career exploration can be viewed as a lifelong journey – or continuum –beginning with career attraction at a young age, moving into training, placement and finally retention or advancement. Community colleges are premier providers of technical degrees and certifications, and skills development programs for many careers, but the full journey requires action and interventions from employers as well as educators. Click to expand Educators and employers have roles to play along the career continuum “We do a really good job pushing some students all the way through this continuum, and with some students we stop at career awareness. How can we get more students through, would be the question. That […] relies on employer partners. It does involve that next step. After the hands-on exploration is the preparation, the training stage, and that's something we can't do alone,” Chen said.   View all past UpSkill Works forums.
Read More

Related Events

Digital Technology

PARTNERSHIP WEEK: Priority Panels

Partnership Week continues with panel discussions featuring business leaders around topics critical to Houston's growth.  Senior Partnership staff, board and industry leaders will engage in conversations…

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners