Upwardly Mobile Through STEM? STEM Competences, Participation and Returns Among Ethnic Minority Women and Men in Germany (STEMobile)

Research question/goal: 

STEMobile aims to first describe patterns of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) representation in Germany (i.e., who studies these subjects) and second identify key factors that contribute to a successful STEM education among men and women with and without migration background. Our third guiding question is whether STEM credentials can help narrow or even close the gap in labour market outcomes between Germany’s ethnic minorities of both genders and the native‐born majority. Finally, STEMobile aims to identify and explain patterns of gender and origin interactions, thus enabling a more differentiated approach to STEM‐related inequalities. This allows us to examine how patterns of minorities’ STEM participation and outcomes as well as the intersectionality of gender and migration background can be explained by theoretically relevant aspects of immigrants’ origin.

Our empirical analyses provide evidence on gaps related to gender and migration background as well as on intersectional patterns in the German context with regard to three dimensions – academic performance in STEM fields, STEM participation, and labour market returns to STEM qualifications. We consider how multiple contextual factors related to immigrant origin, such as prestige attributed to STEM occupations, labour markets’ STEM‐related affinity, transferability of skills (above all linguistic and cultural distance), materialistic orientations, religiosity and traditionalism, and gender equality, can explain differences between specific origin groups in closing the gap in STEM participation and STEM‐related outcomes.

Current stage: 

In its third year of funding, the project has focussed on analysing students’ decision to study STEM at higher education and on the labour market returns of STEM-qualified immigrants and natives. In both cases, country-of-origin characteristics were used as main explanatory variables in the analysis of intersectional patterns in STEM outcomes with regard to gender and ethnic origin. The project is currently also examining individual-level effects as potential explanations for choosing a STEM major. Preliminary results of our analyses were presented at international conferences.

Fact sheet

Fritz Thyssen Foundation
2020 to 2024
Data Sources: 
PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS/IGLU and EUROSTUDENT data; NEPS and CILS4EU‐DE; German Microcensus, the GSOEP, and datasets DZHW
Geographic Space: