Filling the STEM gap

Technology giants chip in to remedy minority blight

Nationally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that more than 300,000 technology-related jobs remain unfilled for lack of qualified workers. The president understands the critical role science will play in sustaining our nation. Earlier this week, he announced his President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a group of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers who will advise the administration and help formulate policy.

“Most people think they need to obtain a master’s or a Ph.D, but STEM learning provides the foundation for most career paths, including advanced manufacturing jobs—people who will fix your car,” says Mel Schiavelli, president of the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Pennsylvania, a private science-and-technology focused University.

“We see the tide changing, and people are beginning to understand why they need know algebra, regardless of what job they want. When I was a kid, science and math were good things to study, but all of sudden, when my kids grew up, it wasn’t cool for girls to be good at math. And that is doubly problematic for African American and Latinos.”

To make STEM subjects relevant to underserved communities, Microsoft partnered with the School District of Philadelphia two years ago to open the School of the Future, an innovative, technology-rich high school with digital lockers and an interactive learning center and library, in the working-class neighborhood of West Philly.

Like Google, the company also hosts a program that works to dispel gender stereotypes in the high-tech industry. During its DigiGirlz Day, female students are pared with women executives at the company who introduce them to engineering and technology.

“Technology has to be a right, not a privilege, and we’re preparing students with 21st century skills.” said Anthony Salcito, general manager of U.S. education on behalf of Microsoft. “We want to ignite careers. We want to inspire students to impact the world. Innovation drives the course of our economy, and we believe the hope for America lies in the work of these students.”

Resources

Women in Engineering
The largest international professional organization dedicated to promoting women engineers and scientists.

Coalition for Science After School

American Mathematical Society

National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering

Association for Women in Science

School of the Future

DreamSpark

CareerForward

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  • http://STEM Shelly Forney

    I am a 25-year-old African-American female, pursing my B.S. in Electrical Engineering. I am a junior and I have 2-years left of a 5-year program. I definitely agree with the statistics of minorities and especially black females pursuing STEM fields. I work for a local utility part-time and go to school full time,and raise my 5-year-old. I am currently writing a book to encourage young single mothers, it will detail the obstacles in my life, workforce (white-male dominated), and as a student. I wish there was something that can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields, I think several people are scared of the challenge and failing. I had a great experince at 2009 NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) Conference in Las Vegas. It was a very positive turnout. Thanks for acknowledging this issue BE, I have been struggling with it for 3.5 years.

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