STEM is the acronym referring to the academic principles of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The term is most widely used in education, as well as having increasing prominence in workforce development and equality.
The acronym was first used after a meeting on science education held at the US National Science Foundation (NSF), when Dr Peter Faletra suggested a change from the old acronym SMET (Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology) to STEM.
NSF director Rita Colwell, after expressing dislike for the older acronym, suggested that the NSF make the change to STEM. The first NSF project to use the new acronym was a 1997 initiative at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
In business, STEM is most commonly used in research, initiatives and by organisations looking at gender equality in the workforce. UK organisations such as the Stemettes and WISE actively lobby for more women to be schooled and hired in the STEM fields, using research to highlight the inequality of today’s workforce and the perception of STEM among parents and children.