New STEM Challenge: Ageism

Ageism will likely be the latest diversity hurdle for companies in 2018, and may impact STEM industries the hardest.
By: | December 29, 2017 • 3 min read
ageism in STEM

With 2018 just around the corner, HR and talent decision makers remain stymied by the diversity challenge.

As the new year dawns, getting diversity data in better shape is on the minds of many employers, and nowhere is that issue more acute than within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mat (STEM) professional field.

For example, a 2017 survey from Indeed, the job site, found that 43 percent of 1,011 employees polled worry about losing their job due to their age.  Even worse, Indeed found that nearly 18 percent say they worry about it “all the time.” Also, 36 reported experiencing at least one instance during which they weren’t taken seriously by colleagues and managers due to age.


Another recent survey, 2017 STEM Workplace Trends, commissioned by Modis, a provider of information technology and engineering staffing, found that as the STEM workforce matures, age is an ongoing issue for HR to ponder when it comes to diversity talent challenges.

That survey found that a decent percentage — 39 percent — of STEM professionals say that age disparity is the greatest conflict their field struggles to fix.

In all, Modis surveyed 1,500 U.S. adults who work as decision makers in STEM) fields. Not surprisingly, it found that 58 percent of respondents over the age of 55 view age disparity as the greatest challenge to overcome, while those under the age of 25 view gender as the greatest challenge to STEM diversity. Clearly, gender disparity is an issue for younger STEM workers, but ageism is on the minds of older Baby Boomers.

“With more than half of STEM professionals ranking age and gender as the largest diversity struggle in their fields, employers need to be aware of these concerns and aim to make purposeful changes if they want to attract and retain top talent,” said John Marshall III, CEO, Modis, in a company statement.