Building the next generation of STEMinists

July 31, 2019

Engineering is everywhere.

Almost everything we touch has a team of engineers behind it – from the food we eat, to the cars we drive and even the clothes we wear. That rings true at Caterpillar, too.

We provide innovative solutions that help our customers build a better world. And, behind the yellow iron is a global workforce made up of smart, diverse, committed people working together. Our employees, including more than 10,800 engineers and 360 PhD engineers, possess a balance of academic knowledge, technical skills and critical thinking skills. Why? They need to keep up with the rapid process and technology changes.

Looking for Technical Talent

Unfortunately, there’s a shortage in technical talent today. Graduates of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics – or STEM – fields are a critical part of our team, but the number of graduates in those fields has been steadily declining.

But, even more alarming, not only is there a STEM graduate shortage, there’s a large gender gap according to the Society of Women Engineers. For example:

  • Nearly 27% of freshmen intending to major in engineering, math, statistics or computer science were male, while just under 8 percent were female in 2014. And, about one third of those women end up switching out of STEM degree programs later.
  • Only 30 percent of women who earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering remain in that field 20 years later – and many of them leave because of negative organizational climate.

The problem starts before college, though. Studies show that girls lose interest in STEM as early as middle school.

Empowering People

We are on a mission to change these statistics and create more awareness about careers in STEM, particularly for young girls. Today, we support many STEM outreach initiatives across the enterprise. Our employees volunteer as FIRST Robotics mentors, and we host initiatives like “Introduce a Girl to STEM Day” to bring STEM awareness to middle school girls and connect them to role models in those fields.

Creating Real and Lasting Change through Girl Up

The Caterpillar Foundation is also focused on building the human infrastructure by empowering people with the skills they need to succeed. Education is a priority for the Foundation with an emphasis on workforce readiness and STEM education.

One such partnership to create real and sustainable change is through our support of the UN Foundation’s Girl Up initiative – a global leadership development initiative that positions girls to be leaders and create tangible change for girls everywhere. From leadership training to lobbying Congress on Capitol Hill, Girl Up youth advocates are helping to impact girls around the world. Caterpillar’s Global Government and Corporate Affairs Vice President Kathryn Karol recently spoke to 450 young girls at their annual Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., about the importance of careers in STEM to Caterpillar.