Solving the STEM Crisis: It Takes a Coalition
We have a STEM crisis on our hands. And, we need all hands on deck to address it. April is National Mathematics Month. And, in keeping with the focus of The Social Scholar, I have chosen to write about and curate content concentrated on getting more women and minorities in STEM education and careers. I am particularly focused on African American and Hispanic girls and boys, where the shortage is more acute. My hope is that by joining with others working on this issue, we can activate and support a coalition of parents, teachers, students, professional associations and community organizations to develop strategies that make STEM education and careers more viable to all of our children and young careerists.
By 2018 (that’s just right around the corner, y’all), there will be a million more STEM jobs than we have people trained to fill them. The opportunity is immense and the problem it provides for the U.S. cannot be underestimated. Yet, only about 4% of engineering graduates are African American and less than 10% are Hispanic.
Organizations Committed to Increasing Minorities in STEM.
About a year ago, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) launched a campaign to increase the number of Black engineering graduates to 10,000 annually by 2025. That’s more than three times the current graduates. The task is daunting, but I admire the boldness of this organization. Google is another organization that has taken a visible and bold move to increase the diversity of its workforce by committing $150 million in 2015, $114 million in 2014, and partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities by sending Google engineers to help train and prepare minority students for STEM careers. Their public efforts come as the company records only 1% of its workforce is Black and 2% are Hispanic. The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) is yet another organization working to increase the number of successful minorities in STEM education and careers. The nonprofit provides educational materials for students interested in an engineering career and runs scholarship programs.
We can also learn a lot from STEM schools who are having great success in preparing minority students for STEM careers. According to the latest U.S. News Best High Schools Rankings Report, the #1 rated STEM school is High Technology High School in New Jersey. This public high school has an enrollment of 53% minorities, graduates 100% of its students and enjoys an overall #11 nation-wide ranking of all schools. Part of their success is attributed to low student-teacher ratio, parental involvement and partnerships with local community colleges and universities. What High Technology shows us is it can be done with minority students in a fringe rural community.
Call to Action.
The point of this post is to raise awareness, to highlight schools and organizations that have already taken bold moves to increase women and minorities in STEM. More importantly, the call to action is to solicit your time, talents and other resources to contribute to this cause. None of the organizations mentioned here and others not mentioned can do this work alone. It will take a coalition to prepare our kids to take advantage of the STEM educational and career opportunities. If you say, “I’m all in,” then I ask that you find a school, community or national organization to support. Mentor a young boy or girl or college student and encourage their interests in STEM.