The STEM pipeline is a term used to describe the educational pathway for students in the STEM fields, (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The start and end of this STEM pipeline are disputed, but it is often considered to begin in early education and extend into graduation or an adult career in STEM.
The "pipeline" metaphor is based on the idea that having sufficient graduates requires both having sufficient input of students at the beginning of their studies, and retaining these students through completion of their academic program. The STEM pipeline is a key component of workplace diversity and of workforce development that ensures sufficient qualified candidates are available to fill scientific and technical positions.
The STEM pipeline was promoted in the United States from the 1970s onwards, as “the push for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education appears to have grown from a concern for the low number of future professionals to fill STEM jobs and careers and economic and educational competitiveness.”
Today, this metaphor is commonly used to describe retention problems in STEM fields, called “leaks” in the pipeline. For example, the White House reported in 2012 that 80% of minority groups and women who enroll in a STEM field switch to a non-STEM field or drop out during their undergraduate education. These leaks often vary by field, gender, ethnic and racial identity, socioeconomic background, and other factors, drawing attention to structural inequities involved in STEM education and careers.
The STEM pipeline concept is a useful tool for programs aiming at increasing the total number of graduates, and is especially important in efforts to increase the number of underrepresented minorities and women in STEM fields. Using STEM methodology, educational policymakers can examine the quantity and retention of students at all stages of the K–12 educational process and beyond, and devise programs and interventions to improve educational processes and outcomes. STEM programs focus on increasing social and academic supports for students. STEM programs may also focus on bringing students together with professionals in their field, to provide mentoring, role models and learning opportunities in industry.
In the United States, although efforts to increase the number of women and African Americans in STEM fields have been ongoing, as recently as 2010 the results have been evaluated as "poor". In 2014, one report declared that "traditionally underrepresented groups remain underrepresented", while another article commented, "You can go through your entire scholarly trajectory in computer science without seeing one face of color", where "of color" refers to African Americans.
STEM pipeline programs in the US have been created at various levels. Examples include: the Technology Leadership Institute at the University of Pittsburgh at the college and university level, the Nevada STEM pipeline at the state level  and the Broadening Participation in Computing Alliances at the national level.
Educational attainment factors
High Schools in the United States implement a STEM pipeline program that combines a dual pathway that enhances mathematical, engineering, and scientific skills along with a supportive group that aims to help underrepresented students aspire to become leaders in the STEM field. Students benefit from the moral support and motivational skills that mentors implement for their correct academic preparation. Teachers, and college mentors become in the life of the students in the program a guidance in their path to be the next generation of leaders. Furthermore, staff members aid students to feel integrated and cared for their well-being. In their path to pursue higher education in the STEM fields, underrepresented students are awarded scholarships that aid them throughout their college years. Scholarships are a factor that allows underrepresented to focus on their academic and allows them to be persistent throughout their years in college.
The STEM pipeline program provides a multitude of workshops, and extracurricular activities to work on social and professional development. Moreover, it arranges networking with minorities that went through the program and now currently work in the science, or health field. In addition, to the benefits as an alumnus of the program, every student is invited to become advocates within their community with the goal of increasing the amount of underrepresented students in STEM fields 
The support of programs such as the STEM pipeline program aims to increase diversity in the workplace with the ambition to create an inclusive safe area where all the members of the team can contribute to the development of innovative ideas in their respective field. Additionally, the diversity of collaborating with different ideas enhances the outcome of the team's desired goal, and facilitates better planning of the timeline.
The concept of the STEM pipeline has been met with resistance for its pragmatic overtones. National Science Board Vice Chairman Kelvin Droegemeier calls for a movement away from thinking about the necessary number of STEM workers, in favor of considering the necessary knowledge and skills for the success of all workers.
The linearity of the STEM pipeline concept has been criticized as neglecting the wide variety of possible career pathways, including interdisciplinary studies, intermittent careers, and STEM-informed work in non-technical fields. A 2015 commentary in Inside Higher Ed suggested that the "leaky pipeline" metaphor may be viewed as pejorative towards individuals who leave the academic track for employment, or use their technical background as the basis for a career in a non-technical field.
Some have said that increasing the STEM pipeline is not enough to promote workplace diversity. Women and minorities in STEM such as Tracy Chou have argued that STEM companies must also focus on internal reforms, such as reevaluating inequitable hiring practices and unsupportive workplace culture.
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