The status of women and minorities in stem has always been a hotly debated topic. STEM, or the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, inspires innovation and creativity in the work force, but unfortunately, underrepresentation prevents STEM fields from reaching their full potential. STEM fields need than just the able-bodied, white, heterosexual, cisgendered male’s contributions; STEM needs the creativity and knowledge of minority individuals in order to ensure the contributions to the field are diverse and expansive to all groups of people.
Statistics of Women in Stem:
Though women’s representation percentage in the STEM field has increased over several years, there are still factor in place that cause the underrepresentation of women in the field:
- Though women make up nearly half of the work force, their representation in STEM fields is only at 26%. (https://www.onlinecolleges.net/for-students/women-and-minorities-stem/)
- The percentage points of women in positions such as computer scientists, systems analysts, software developers, information systems managers and programmers has gone down 7 percent since 1990. (https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-across-jobs/)
- The gains in women’s representation in STEM has only included women holding advanced degrees in their education, while this is not always the case with men in the field. (https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-across-jobs/)
- The gender wage gap is larger in the STEM field than other occupations (
Though the numbers of women in STEM are steadily increasing, it is important that the opportunities that are available to women are the same as those offered to men without any added obstacles. It is important that women feel encouraged to pursue fields in STEM so the field will have a more diverse mindset of contributions.
Statistics of Other Minorities in Stem:
There is also an underrepresentation of blacks and hispanics in the STEM field. There are many sources that contribute this representation percentage to the amount of individuals who take STEM courses in college; it is reported that blacks and hispanics are not studying STEM at a collegiate level, but I believe that there are barriers from preventing them to be able to do so.
- Blacks make up 11% of the U.S. workforce overall but represent 9% of STEM workers (https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-across-jobs/)
- Hispanics comprise 16% of the U.S. workforce but only 7% of all STEM workers (https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-across-jobs/)
- It is reported that minorities have a significantly higher dropout rate, especially in the STEM field (https://www.onlinecolleges.net/for-students/women-and-minorities-stem/)
I think it is imperative that educational and fiscal support is provided to minority groups to help ensure that they have the same opportunities to enter STEM fields as other privileged groups do. Their diverse viewpoint and creative contributions are necessary in STEM fields and the ever-changing discoveries of science.
How to Encourage Equity in STEM:
The “opportunity gaps” that minorities face in STEM fields need to be eradicated in order to obtain equity. These opportunity gaps need to be squashed BEFORE they even arise, and by this I mean teachers of the youth need to open up more opportunities for minorities to become interested in STEM.
- Teachers need to actively support their students to use their “sense-making
repertoires, funds of knowledge, and experiences of 21st century life
as critical tools in engaging with science and engineering practices.” (http://stemteachingtools.org/assets/landscapes/STEM-Teaching-Tool-15-Equity-Overview.pdf)
- Encourage students use their own backgrounds, histories, and practices to help them understand scientific methods and procedures. They will feel more inclined to contribute their idea to STEM topics (http://stemteachingtools.org/assets/landscapes/STEM-Teaching-Tool-15-Equity-Overview.pdf)