Minorities in STEM
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) jobs are growing faster than any other US sector. Available jobs in the field are set to increase 17% between 2014 and 2024, while non-STEM employment will grow just 12%. Pursuing professions in the field of STEM has proven to provide individuals with a wide variety of opportunities and job experiences, stable incomes, and a multitude of benefits to our society as a whole.
However, of this increasing workforce, 84% of the working professionals currently in science and engineering jobs in the U.S are white or Asian males. As the demand for STEM careers continues to grow it not only demonstrates the need for more qualified and trained professionals but also the need for the recruitment of more women and minorities. Historically, these populations have accounted for only small fractions of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians. Black and Hispanic workers are most underrepresented, as they make up 6%-11% of the US workforce but represent 7%-9% of the STEM workforce. Women make up half (50%) of all US workers in STEM occupations, as they account for the majority of healthcare practitioners and technicians but are underrepresented in other STEM fields like computer jobs and engineering. You can imagine how low the numbers get when you analyze those of African-American women and Hispanic women.
This trend of underrepresentation begins long before college and career– it starts at home and within primary and secondary education. When considering underfunded secondary schools in low-income areas, the students that attend these schools have the least access to opportunities that introduce or encourage them into STEM fields. Students have the least access to STEM-related equipment, STEM-related learning programs, and classes. Students in low-income schools are “much less likely than their peers in wealthier schools to experience hands-on activities in science”. More than half miss out on these critical opportunities.