Everyone Can Reach For the Stars

Where we stand today

Women, minorities and those with disabilities are scarce in the STEM fields. There are many reasons why this is. One of the main reasons is the stereotypes placed on these individuals. Women are thought of, not as scientists, but as mothers and housewives. This is changing in our world today with more women than ever going into the STEM fields. Many people who are of different nationalities are also underrepresented because of the stereotypes placed on their culture. For example, many African Americans and Hispanics are looked down upon in this field because they are often seen as coming from a poor neighborhood and being disadvantaged. This is NOT true. The reason that people with disabilities are underrepresented are because of a similar stereotype. They may be seen as ineffective workers and are seen as not capable of such a difficult field.  These stereotypes have followed us throughout history. It is time to change those, don’t you think??? I think so too. In this blog, I will start by listing the statistics that I have found online about this issue, I will describe how this is a problem and how we can change this, I will introduce a scientist who is a minority and a woman, I will describe how minorities in STEM could be a good thing, and then I will then move onto how we, as teachers, can fix the problem of underrepresentation and promote STEM awareness in our classrooms!







In this section, I will list various statistics that I have found online. I have included a link to this page, if you are interested. Many of these statistics made me feel a little uneasy.

  • Students in the minority groups with low SESs, tend to take fewer advanced courses in science and mathematics.
  • A large gap exists between how people do on the standardized tests for mathematics and science. Females and males tend to perform equally as well, but minorities perform significantly lower on these tests than the mainstream student population
  • Male students are much more likely to take engineering and computer science courses than females.
  • In 2012, only 11.2% of bachelor degrees were awarded to minority women in science and engineering, 8.2% of Masters, and only 4.1% of doctorate degrees were awarded to minority women in science and engineering.
  • The greatest gender gap in the sciences, between men and women, is in engineering, computer science, and physical science. More women tend to study biological sciences.
  • Women make up ½ of the U.S college educated workforce, but only make up 29% of workers in STEM fields.
  • In 2013, 70% of all science and engineering workers were white. Minorities continue to be underrepresented.
  • African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians make up only 11% of the STEM workforce. Mainstream populations make up 27% of the STEM workforce.
  • Fewer than 1 in 10 employed STEM workers are minority women.

This information was obtained from the following website. Click on the link to view more. It is from the The National Girl Collaborative Project.


What is the Problem and How can we Change this?

The problem is evident. Many women, minorities, and people of disabilities are underrepresented in STEM fields. This may be because of low SES, stereotypes around these individuals, and also a tendency of majorities to feel more confidence compared to Minorities. Minorities may have fewer resources and feel less confident. As a nation, we must promote scientific and mathematical literacy in everyone, despite their gender, race, or disability. There are many minorities that would do excellent in the STEM fields and succeed if given the chance. To do this, these individuals must have support, resources, inspiration, and opportunities. If these are provided, these individuals can do great things. By support, I mean that these stereotypes must be broken down. Parents and teachers must provide encouragement for students to pursue their passions! Whether it be in STEM or any other field. You must allow the students to explore and find out what makes them curious. You must also provide resources. A lot of homes do not have the correct resources for students to succeed. This occurs most often in homes of minorities. As a teacher and parent, you must do your best to provide resources for the students to reach their goals. These resources can be school supplies, books, knowledge, or practice. The other thing that must be provided is inspiration. Students need to feel inspired that, despite the circumstances, they can succeed! Students also need to be given opportunities to practice, learn, and accomplish their goals. In my opinion, if these 4 things are in place, in our society, we will see a lot more diversity in STEM. It has happened already in the past decades. Women and minorities are now given more of a chance to reach for the stars and shine!

The information for Temple Grandin came from her website. The link is below:


Meet Temple Grandin: A Minority and a Woman in STEM

Dr. Temple Grandin is an extraordinary person. She is a woman, but is also a minority. She has a disability known as Autism. This disability makes it harder for her to communicate and manage her emotions. It also makes certain subjects, like algebra and English, unbearable. Temple Grandin was born with this condition. Since autism was not a diagnosis at the time, her doctor diagnosed her with brain damage and suggested that she be in an institution. Temple Grandin was supported by her mother who never gave up on her. Her mother allowed her to pursue her passion: Science. She worked with animals on a farm and studied psychology. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s and doctorate in animal science. She was helped at an early age by her science teacher and mother. Her mother supported her interest in animals and encouraged her to pursue it. She was given the resources to pursue her dreams by being at the boarding school and earning the knowledge to help her work with animals. Now, Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. She worked with cattle on her Aunt’s farm and has developed techniques to calm cattle. She is also a spokesperson for autistic individuals and animals. She now works at trying to perfect the cattle rearing system and decrease the harmful hormones in our meat. You can see that, by this description, she received all of the four components to succeed as a minority and woman in the STEM field!

What are the Benefits of Encouraging Minorities?

Minorities in STEM would benefit everyone. There are individuals who do not give themselves a chance because of the stereotypes. This is sad because they have the knowledge and the capability to be great. Since women and minorities are different from the mainstream white male, they may have ideas and come to conclusions about science that men would not come to. If these individuals are not considered and not given a fair chance, we are only hurting science. Their ideas could be a breakthrough. Women have different brains than men, since they have a different brain chemistry. Temple Grandin said, “Autistic minds are just what science needs!”. I agree with this very much. In this quote she is referring to autistic individuals. Imagine how other minorities can change the playing field in STEM. It is time to stop letting stereotypes run the sciences. People have great things to contribute to STEM. Here are benefits of encouraging more minorities to pursue STEM:

  • Different ways of thinking due to different cultural backgrounds
  • Inspiration for other minorities to enter the field of STEM
  • Development of different methods and ways of doing things that would not have necessarily come up before.
  • Freedom for minorities from prejudice
  • Break down of stereotypes holding people back
  • Fair workplaces that celebrate diversity
  • New breakthroughs
  • Can help with poverty that is experienced by some minorities.







How Can Teachers Help?

In a previous paragraph. I listed four things that would help minorities: support, resources, inspiration, and opportunities. These are four things that I believe will help minorities to succeed in the STEM field. I will discuss each one and list three things that a teacher can do Instill STEM awareness into students of all backgrounds!

SUPPORT- Support means that you are encouraging children to pursue what excites them and what fascinates them. You are allowing them to know that you are there for them in whatever field they choose. This is known as a little push that encourages children to follow their passions in STEM fields. Ways to do this in the classroom include:

  • Find out what fascinates a child and help them to develop more curiosity about the subject.
  • Tell the child and his/her parents about local STEM camps, programs, and science fairs.
  • Give constructive feedback to a student, but also tell them what they are doing well in and encourage them to pursue what fascinates them.

RESOURCES- Resources are the materials and knowledge that a child will need to pursue their career in STEM. This can include physical materials (books, school supplies, money) or intrinsic materials (knowledge, encouragement, etc.). Way to provide this in the classroom include:

  • Provide school supplies and materials for students to use in the classroom. This can include having a stash of extra notebooks, pencils, highlighters, calculators, rulers, etc. Allow students to use things or keep thing from the stash when needed.
  • If a student is curious about a certain subject, provide books and information on the subject. I recommend having science books in the room that students can check out and learn more about subjects. Having science magazines in the classroom, as well, work great!
  • Provide students with a wealth of knowledge on where to obtain science materials for science projects. Provide them with a wealth of knowledge when they are curious about something. For example, incorporate something that they are interested in, in an assignment for class.

INSPIRATION- inspiration is defined as doing simple things that are designed to promote and encourage a child’s curiosity about a subject. It allows the child to have more faith in themselves and allows them to realize that anything is possible. To inspire children to pursue STEM-related careers, here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Introduce a new scientist every week. Describe their challenges that they had to face and how they overcame them. Use scientists from many different backgrounds and genders. Allow minorities to see that it is more than possible for them to become an awesome scientist!
  • Allow students to pick scientists to do projects on and share with the class. The students get to each pick a scientist that they relate to. They can research the scientist and develop a presentation of their scientists. If some kids do not like to present, they can represent their findings many other ways, such as posters, pamphlets, powerpoints, writing project, etc.
  • Encourage children by being a great model to them. Model kindness, hard work, dedication, and passion. Do this by making your labs fun and engaging for students. Show students your passion about science and they will follow.

OPPORTUNITIES- Students need chances to get more involved in STEM-related activities. They need chances to show their knowledge and learn on their own. You can do this, as a teacher, by:

  • When doing labs, ask the children to experiment. Do not tell them what works and what doesn’t. Have them decide themselves what works and what does not work. Ask them questions to get them thinking rather than just telling them how to do thinks. Teach them how to think not what to think.
  • Incorporate more STEM activities in your classes that fill the requirements of all of the 4 components of STEM: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
  • Encourage students to venture out into the STEM fields by participating in a contest or science fair. Tell them the details and get them encouraged to prepare something for the event.

Most of all, remember that anyone can be an awesome scientist and all should reach for the stars, if you miss, you may land on the moon!!!

Here is a video of a STEM activity in action! This video is from Edutopia and gives great ideas for science teachers on how to incorporate STEM activities in the classroom!

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