Within the career paths of science, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), there is a very large population of nonminority men. With a majority of STEM occupations ranking higher on wages, the apparent lack of diversity becomes concerning. Why are many young women and minorities not obtaining STEM careers? Let’s explore this topic further:
The REAL statistics:
- “Hispanic workers make up 17% of total employment across all occupations, but just 8% of all STEM workers” (Nadeem, 2021).
- Black workers make up around 11% of employed adults, but only 9% within the STEM workforce. “There has been no change in the share of Black workers in STEM jobs since 2016” (Nadeem, 2021).
- The diversity in STEM careers is correlated with higher education. Those in the STEM field require higher education such as bachelor’s or master’s degrees.
- Black students earned 7% of STEM degrees as of 2018.
- A majority of STEM workforces are dominated by Asian and White males.
- “Women earned 85% of the bachelor’s degrees in health-related fields, but just 22% in engineering and 19% in computer science as of 2018” (Nadeem, 2021).
- Women are widely overrepresented in medical-related fields.
- Women are underrepresented in engineering and architecture but have improved slightly since 2016.
- Women have a large share in higher-level medical occupations such as doctors, but face far more pay gaps compared to their male counterparts.
What can TEACHERS do?
Here are several ways that the National Science Teaching Association recommends encouraging STEM for all students:
- Start conversations about STEM careers with your students. Your students trust your knowledge and may look up to you.
- Educate your students that many STEM careers are available to ALL students. Many may feel disconnected from certain STEM fields because the majority consists of non-minority males.
- Encouraging your students to explore STEM role models.
- Research STEM fields to develop their own goals for future STEM careers and interests.
- Help your students explore future careers or college paths.
- Show students the possibilities of high salaries and the plethora of scholarships available to STEM majors.
What I Will Implement in My Future Classroom:
In my future classroom, encouraging all students to pursue STEM careers is something very important to me. STEM is something that many students will not consider as a future career path because of a lack of representation.
Here are a few ways I will encourage my students to pursue STEM:
- Hang several posters detailing women and minority scientists.
- Have many college banners hanging to show local options.
- Connect my students with research opportunities to find role models.
- Have students watch Ted Talks with minority STEM professionals.
- Guide students through finding STEM scholarships through local colleges and organizations.
Statistics show that there is a clear diversity gap in most STEM career fields. There has been a slight increase in women and minority individuals in STEM fields since 2016, and with encouragement, this gap could lessen in the near future.
Teachers can begin to help lessen the gap in STEM fields by encouraging ALL of their students. Allow students to research role models such as Debbie Sterling to create goals for their academic careers. Show your students the salary possibilities and the hundreds of STEM career options.
It all starts with teachers. I was led onto science by my female 11th-grade chemistry teacher who pushed me to excel. She taught me far more than chemistry, she taught me the true art behind the science. Be that teacher for your students.
Abbot, G. (n.d.). How to encourage post-secondary students to pursue stem degrees. NSTA. Retrieved November 20, 2022, from https://www.nsta.org/blog/how-encourage-post-secondary-students-pursue-stem-degrees#:~:text=Starting%20a%20conversation%20is%20the,a%20life%20within%20that%20field.
Nadeem, R. (2021, April 1). Stem jobs see uneven progress in increasing gender, racial and ethnic diversity. Pew Research Center Science & Society. Retrieved November 20, 2022, from https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2021/04/01/stem-jobs-see-uneven-progress-in-increasing-gender-racial-and-ethnic-diversity/