By Jeremy Bamidele
STEM jobs are increasing at staggering rates, meanwhile the amount of minorities and women graduating with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics remains alarmingly low. This leads to a lack of intellectual capital causing wages in the field to be comparatively high, while also encouraging outsourcing and the growth of racial and gender income disparities. In order to prevent such effects and increase the supply of much needed STEM educated individuals, more minorities and women must be brought into the STEM field.
As mentioned, in my article “Minorities in STEM: Part 1,”part of the problem is that minority and female STEM majors are not being employed at near the rate of their white male counterparts. This disincentivizes minority and female students from selecting STEM majors as they find the industry to be unwelcoming towards them. Another cause of the lack of minorities and women and STEM is the undersupply of them. While this makes sense considering the unwelcome environment, it hinders the growth of females and minorities in STEM advocacy groups, making it likely for the continuation of gender and racial discrimination within the STEM fields.
Therefore, the questions must be asked, “How can the amount of minority and female students graduating be increased?” The problem is two-fold. First recruitment efforts must be made to increase the enrollment of minorities and women in STEM educational programs; second they must find the support and guidance needed to graduate with STEM degrees, as opposed to changing to non-STEM majors or worse, not graduating at all.
While the marketplace may be averse to hiring women and minorities in STEM that does not mean that the educational system must also be averse to them. There is no reason that the advancements made to the education of females and minorities should not extend to the STEM field. Places of learning must acknowledge the unwelcoming environments they project towards certain communities and counteract the responsible behaviors with rules and initiatives that encourage both the recruitment and retention of minority and female students.
In addition, females and minorities must also be able to envision themselves in STEM occupations. The current lack of female and minorities in STEM occupations, as represented by the media often leads minorities and female viewers to assume by the absence of representation that they are not suited for both STEM education and employment. Therefore, the media should make an effort to increase the representation of minorities and females in STEM positions. As long as potential STEM graduates, continue to not even consider STEM fields as an option for them, the percentage of men and women in these industries will remain low.
The lack of minorities and females in STEM is a socially constructed phenomenon. It originates from the lack of representation and discrimination towards female and minorities. However, to accept the victim role without making efforts to advocate for ones’ community will only lead to further victimization in the form of continued and potentially increasing discrimination towards ones’ groups. Women and minorities must decide for themselves, that obtaining an education and employment in STEM is attainable and worth fighting for. To not do so, will potentially lead to these communities being financially, “left out in the cold.”
This article is a part of a series on STEM by Jeremy Bamidele, a nationally syndicated journalist. He can be reached at JeremyB@JournalistInLosAngeles.com.