Equity for All – It’s Time

It’s no secret that women and minorities in STEM fields are lacking. Though many focus on the lack of women in these fields, it is really important to also look at how minorities are represented. A startling statistic from 2006 shows that 73% of scientists and engineers are white.


 Between black, Hispanic, and other groups, only 10% had STEM related careers.

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Just this one statistic shows that it is clear that access to these career fields is not as accessible to minority groups than it is white people. This is not the only implication though. This lack of minorities and women in STEM fields means that we are missing so many different viewpoints and ideas based on lived experiences of different types of people with different backgrounds. All of that creativity and innovation is being stifled because of a lack of representation.  We as educators need to make sure that our classrooms promote equity among men, women, minorities, and everyone in between.

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Despite the lack of representation of minorities, it is also important to address the tangible implications of having a primarily white male population of scientists.

According to a number of Harvard studies:

  1. Women physicists will make on average 6% less than men if they are identical in every other way.
  2. Undergraduate males consistently rank their female classmates as less knowledgeable about science course content than their male counterparts, even when the females outperform them.
  3. Professors tend to respond more often to potential Ph.D. students when they are white male names than if they are women or men and women of color.
  4. Women need more publications to be considered successful in the science realm.

This video does a great job of explaining some reasons for why women are not more involved in STEM fields as well as some statistics about the underrepresentation.


The lack of women and minorities in STEM fields is honestly a tragedy. A start to help promote STEM to these groups needs to happen in schools before college. Teachers have a HUGE impact on their students, often even larger than they realize.

Some things you as a teacher can do to help promote STEM are:

  1. Actively encourage participation in science topics, lessons, labs, and questions from all of your students, not just the ones who feel comfortable participating.
  2. When introducing new topics, be sure to point out scientists that don’t fit the white male stereotypical model. If students can see themselves in someone else doing incredible things, they will be far more likely to pursue a similar path.
  3. Encourage students to come to talk to you for guidance about how to get involved in STEM.
  4. Become a faculty advocate for STEM experiences. One thing that my Biology teacher in high school did was arrange for local doctors to let students shadow them for a day or several days to learn about their profession. If possible, reach out to professionals that are minorities or women.
  5. Ask alumni from the school to come and talk to current students about opportunities and potential career paths that these students have taken and how they can achieve those things too.
  6. Involve yourself in clubs that promote STEM such as a robotics club or cybersecurity club. Help these clubs stay alive and help them to become a place that students can thrive, especially those students that may be hesitant because of their ethnicity or gender.

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  1. Thanks Claire! I think it’s important to realize that even the women who are in STEM fields aren’t necessarily treated or viewed the same way as men. So even if the statistic is improving, we still need to look at how those women and minorities are treated. I think that as a woman, I can help my students by showing them that if they want to pursue STEM, they can. I will be teaching them science and proving that a woman can do science if she wants to. I can also help them to see past and work through any obstacles they may face. I can be their advocate and supporter.

  2. Thanks Pete! I think the comic shows how important good role models are to help students see themselves in STEM careers. To answer your question, I think the things I listed in my post kind of summarize how I would do that. In addition, I would approach kids who I think may need extra encouragement to show that I believe in them and that they can do anything they put their minds to. As Lady Gaga said, “There could be 100 people in a room and 99 of them don’t believe in you but all it takes is one and it just changes your whole life”. You should be that one person for your students.

  3. Margaux,
    The quote about fair and equal is so true and needs to be ingrained in everyone’s head! I feel like sometimes people forget that no student starts as a clean slate with no outside feelings, misconceptions, or knowledge about a subject. It’s our duty to supply what each student needs to be successful no matter their race, ethnicity, or gender. I really liked that you not only emphasized statistics among minorities in STEM, but that you also included the Harvard research about women and minorities are treated in STEM professions and school. As a woman, how will you use your personal experiences to help push your female students into STEM?
    Great job!

  4. Margaux,
    Thanks for your post! I really liked how you bolded some of the key words and numbers. It serves to drive home just how big the issue is. I also think the graphics you used are pretty great. I specifically like the comic style picture with the redhaired woman. She mentions that she has role models in science so she was confident in herself and her career in science. I think that communicates really well how important it is for kids to have role models in science. What would you do to make sure that underrepresented students in your classroom have the confidence to make STEM their career?

  5. Margaux,
    First of all, I really like your blog! One of my favorite things about it is how you emphasized the 73%. This grabs attention right away, and really emphasizes the fact that this number is a problem. I also like the picture of the woman surrounded by all white men. This really helps put everything into perspective! Your Harvard study facts really get the point across, as well as your video.
    I also like how you mention that things need to be done before college. I totally agree!
    I also think you have amazing ideas to get students involved in stem early on! My question for you is, how would you encourage students to come talk to you for guidance?
    Again, great blog!

    • Thanks Katie! I think it’s really important to look at the numbers so that you have real evidence to base an opinion on about women and minorities in STEM. I think one way to encourage students to talk to me is to share personal stories about STEM with my students. It’s important to realize that your teacher is a person too who probably has had very similar experiences to you and has the wisdom to share. I would also try to find opportunities for students to participate in STEM outside of the classroom and encourage them to come chat for more information on them. If students know that there are things they can do and see opportunities, they can make more concrete ideas about how they can potentially see themselves in the field and want to participate.

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