How Twitter Shows the Future Promise of STEM

How Twitter Shows the Future Promise of STEM

by Gerri Mason Hall, SVP & Chief Human Resources Officer, Sodexo North America
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How does #Twitter show the future promise of #STEM? #Sodexo provides insight #Technology

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Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 11:00am

CAMPAIGN: Quality of Life Content Series


This week, Sodexo participated in the “Upskilling America’s Workforce: Preparing for the Future of Work by Aligning Business and Education” conference, hosted by Manpower Group and Apollo Education Group at the National Press Club. The conference highlighted a ManpowerGroup’s Talent Shortage Survey, which found that 38 percent of employers globally report difficulties filling jobs.

As a top 20 global employer, with over 133,000 employees in the U.S., we recognize that a key part of the challenge is building a workforce with the necessary STEM skills.

We know that Sodexo employees need to have a fundamental comprehension of STEM skills in order to deliver the most innovative products, services and solutions to our clients and customers, but also to be productive and grow professionally.  Beyond Sodexo, it’s essential that the American workforce becomes more competitive in STEM fields to thrive in our global economy, one that is increasingly reliant on STEM skills.

However, with the U.S. ranked 20th in science and 27th in math by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), it is clear that America is lagging behind other international markets in developing a workforce that can fulfill the burgeoning demand for STEM-related jobs. 

With this in mind, Sodexo maintains a commitment to improve STEM education.  In 2013, Sodexo entered into a partnership with STEMconnector - which is a consortium of companies, nonprofit associations and professional societies, STEM-related research and policy organizations, government entities, and academic institutions concerned with STEM education and the future of human capital in the United States - to help fulfill this commitment.

We’re pleased to see that over the past several years the national dialogue around STEM has been dynamically growing. With close to 80 percent of Americans on social media, we’re able to discern how America’s awareness and perceptions around STEM are changing by assessing social conversations (e.g., tweets) pertaining to STEM. In doing so, we noted three interesting findings:

1. Americans are showing increased awareness around STEM.

The U.S. has been lagging behind other countries in building a STEM workforce. However, there’s optimism to believe that this may change. We are seeing that Americans are showing much greater interest in STEM. Consider, over the past year there have been over five million tweets about STEM, of which more than half came from the U.S.  While this does not mean we’re ahead of other countries in building a STEM workforce, it does show that STEM is now very high on the U.S. public agenda.

2. Women are prevalent in the online STEM dialogue.

We see that women are excelling in STEM careers. However, currently, only one out of four women work in a STEM field. Sodexo, as an organization that is devoted to gender diversity, believes it’s essential to get more women interested in STEM.  By doing so, we’ll increase the talent pool of employees that can fulfill STEM jobs. This will also help to help close the gender pay gap. The White House reports that, “Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM occupations and experience a smaller wage gap relative to men.”

Our social media analysis shows that women are showing significant interest in STEM. Over half of all STEM-related tweets over the past year came from women. This is a promising indication that more women are becoming interested in STEM.

3. Education is a leading topic among the STEM dialogue.

STEM education is crucial for developing the next generation of STEM professionals. With the U.S.’s subpar rankings around math and science, if STEM education is not improved we will continue to lag behind other countries.

To that end, the online dialogue around STEM shows that Americans are becoming increasingly engaged on topics pertaining to STEM education. This word cloud, which shows the most frequently used keywords around STEM, shows several key themes around education. Such as: learning, school, students, teachers, as well as education. This is another indication that Americans are placing greater emphasis on improving our country’s STEM education.

We still have a long way to go towards building a workforce with the necessary STEM skills. However, Sodexo believes that when the private sector engages and invests in STEM education, we can help build America’s STEM workforce to compete in a changing and demanding global economy.