Despite encompassing a wide range of careers, the fields of STEM often display characteristics associated with institutionalized discrimination against minorities.
The Current State of STEM
It would be an extreme understatement to simply say that STEM careers are disproportionately filled by white males. In order to fully express the dire state of equity within STEM disciplines, we must first identify the extent of the disparity.
In addition to the inequity surrounding race and equity with regards to representation in STEM careers, the salary gap between white employees and their BIPOC counterparts highlights the intensity of inequity present within STEM. The median pay for white STEM employees was roughly $20,000 – $30,000 more than Black and Hispanic STEM employees.
Furthermore, the wage and employment gap extends across gender. The median pay in STEM careers for women in 2020 was $60,480, while men in the same fields were paid a median salary of $84,000. This equates to roughly a 77% pay rate for women in comparison to their male counterparts.
Looking Through A New Lens
The idea of STEM seems as though it should be extremely inclusive, but with institutional discrimination strangling the fields’ full potential, changes must be made. Despite simply being the right thing to do morally, fighting for inclusion within STEM is the right thing to do academically as well. The inclusion of diverse peoples, backgrounds, ideas, and views has proven to be a reliable accelerant for progress of all kinds.
The decision to pursue a career in STEM is often made based on student experiences within the classroom. The classroom culture can easily draw students in or push them away, and as educators, we have a uniquely impactful role in this ecosystem. Although many educators may be consciously supportive of every student within STEM classrooms, subconscious micromessages such as facial expressions or word choices can impact student self-efficacy and career choice.
As you may know from my last blog, I love acronyms. Previously I talked about how remembering MAP could help you foster student motivation in the classroom, but now I’d like to put a spin on the STEM acronym itself. Here are four words that I plan to highlight within my classroom in order to help instill a better view of STEM for females, BIPOC, and students with disabilities.
Within the fields of STEM, the boundaries are always being pushed further and further. At the core of this progress is the diversity of people and ideas.
In addition to the continuous search for knowledge within STEM, the “how” of thinking within STEM is invaluable. The process of observation and experimentation can be applied to every aspect of one’s life.
The fields of STEM are undeniably fields for everyone. The overlaps of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math with other subjects such as the humanities provide valuable avenues for cooperation. For example, historic methods of concrete mixing from ancient Rome outperformed modern-day methods for centuries.
The overlap of diverse peoples and subjects related to STEM inevitably leads us back to the margins. As I’ve mentioned before, within these margins we can expect to find some of the most important and inclusive discoveries possible.
TLDR: Too Long Didn’t Read
The fields of STEM are currently rife with inequity and discrimination against women, BIPOC, and individuals with disabilities. Much of the change needed in order to promote diversity and inclusion within the realm of STEM must take place in classrooms. Improving classroom cultures through positive micromessages can have positive effects on student self-efficacy within STEM environments.
Miami University || Class of 2023
College of Education Health and Society || Integrated Science Education Major
Secretary || NSTA, Miami University Chapter