There is little doubt that in today’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields there continues to be an overwhelming lack of diversity. This systemic issue is no small matter; the U.S. has been falling behind in STEM on the global level, and lack of diversity is a major cause.
While many could say the biases of those hiring in STEM fields are to blame, the education system is the bigger culprit. Lack of resources and education at the public school level, and the STEM culture at the university level are the root of the issue and this needs to change.
The public school system puts excessive amounts of emphasis on standardized tests in reading and basic math, reallocating funds from the sciences to mitigate these shortcomings. This hits areas of low income and diversity especially hard, putting these students vastly behind their privileged counterparts when they go to university. Overcoming this disadvantage is only met by new challenges at the university level. Even with the many clubs and programs to include women and people of color, the issue stems from student culture in STEM programs.
To no one’s surprise, the majority of STEM majors are white males, making it difficult for diversity to thrive. With the human tendency to form in groups and out groups, this creates an unspoken pressure for women and people of color to perform at either an exceptionally high level or withdraw from the major, and sadly, the latter is more common.
Needless to say, there must be major educational and cultural changes in the American attitude towards STEM if we expect to stay a leader in science and technology. Education and diversity are what breed success and it’s about time we realized it.
– Jack Bull