New programs may restore U.S. high schoolers’ edge over China in math and science
Chinese students are blowing past their American counterparts in science and math scores – but support from new programs gives U.S. teenagers a chance to regain the lead.

Chinese students are blowing past their American counterparts in science and math scores – but support from new programs gives U.S. teenagers a chance to regain the lead.

For decades, the U.S. led the world in academic programs focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). But huge new educational investments by governments in China, Japan and other nations have dwarfed dwindling investments in the U.S., leaving American students choking on the chalkboard dust of their competitors. Today, U.S. high school students rank 28th in science and 36th in math worldwide, while Shanghai, China is at the top of both categories. Japan and China also award twice the number of STEM-related degrees than the U.S.

Concerned by the escalating trend U.S. biopharmaceutical companies are working with a number of public and private partners to help bring back America’s scientific edge. The reason? One-third of biopharmaceutical manufacturing jobs are STEM-related – a full five times higher than in any other industry, on average. The meaning? Without new STEM-ready workers, companies won’t be able to fill many of the industry’s 800,000 high-wage jobs with U.S. workers, so the businesses, and the jobs, may go elsewhere.

STEM statsThe commitment includes more than $100 million invested in STEM education since 2008, nearly 600 individual STEM education grants, and nearly 5,000 biopharmaceutical employees donating almost 27,000 hours volunteering in America’s high schools, according to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

“As a 17 year-old HOSA-Future Health Professionals member enthralled by the world of healthcare and engineering, I find promise in the mission of STEM education and in the ambitions of other young innovators like myself,” says rising research star Sunakshi Puri.

“America’s innovative biopharmaceutical companies are among those recognizing the need to find new ways to improve the quality of STEM education starting at K‐12 and continuing beyond college—they recognize that a STEM workforce is critical in an increasingly competitive global economy,” according to a new report, “STEM: Building a 21st Century Workforce” by Battelle’s Technology Partnership Practice.

Other report findings:

  • Over the last five years, STEM programs have helped more than 1.6 million students and 17,500 teachers across the U.S. On a current annual basis, about 500,000 students and 8,000 teachers participate in STEM education programs supported by PhRMA members.
  • PhRMA member company programs are supporting students and teachers across the country: 14 national‐level programs help fund third‐party STEM education initiatives, scholarships, and competitions designed to foster interest in STEM careers. Additional STEM activities are being supported in 26 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.
  • In addition to financial support, PhRMA member companies are also making significant in‐kind contributions by leveraging the talents of nearly 4,500 industry employee volunteers, who have collectively volunteered almost 27,000 hours over the past five years. Other in‐kind contributions include equipment donations and the use of company laboratory facilities, particularly at the K‐12 levels, at a time when public school budgets are shrinking.

For more information on STEM education initiatives, please visit