STEM, STEAM, & STEMM What Does it All Mean?

April 4, 2021
by Lori Lennon

Female scientist looking at vials in a laboratory. Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash

There is much debate about how to describe the broad fields of science and engineering, some of the most popular being STEM, STEAM, and STEMM.

STEM is the original description created by the National Science Foundation.

STEM= Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

This acronym became widely used in the early 2000s following several reports that U.S. students were falling behind in these important fields. The U.S. education system used this acronym to quickly describe the areas that students needed to improve on rapidly.

Over time, additional acronyms were created to describe this field of work:

STEAM= Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math

STEMM= Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Medicine

But, the question remains; why do we use so many different acronyms for the same field of work? According to The Innovation Unit, a focus on acronyms “gives permission. Permission for educators to respond to the needs of their learners in their context. Permission to engage those they serve in learning that is deep, relevant and applied: learning that matters”.

The inclusion of different fields within the same acronym brings more people into the conversation when describing how we define careers in science. Thinkubator Media uses STEMM to support our mission of inclusivity. Women in all of these disciplines are in need of support. The issues and barriers women face in fields such as the applied sciences are similar to the challenges women in engineering, healthcare, and biotechnology also experience. Our mission is to support and elevate all women in innovation.