In this weeks blog post I wanted to look at the lack of diversity we have in the STEM fields. After reading a few articles on the people color obtaining doctoral degrees I learned a couple disturbing facts I thought I might share (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/shortage-non-white-professors-self-perpetuating-problem):
- 3 percent of doctoral degrees awarded in education represent blacks, however in comparison 3.5 percent of doctoral degrees in the physical sciences are awarded to black people.
- 2 percent of doctoral degrees awarded in humanities represent Hispanic and Latinos, however in comparison 5.4 percent of doctoral degrees in the physical sciences are awarded to Hispanics and Latinos.
- In 2014 MIT added 539 instructional staff members bout of which only 7 were black and 16 were Latino or Hispanic.
When I see these numbers it really drives home to me that this is a systemic issue when it comes to our K-12 educational system. I also think that hiring more people of color into the STEM field is not going to have a large net change in terms of the number of new student it generates into the STEM fields. It might help with retention and graduation of more diverse students, but the root issue needs to be solved. That being said I don’t think we shouldn’t hire more people of color in the STEM field, I completely agree we should. The more pressing issue in my mind is the fact the game is rigged from the start. Depending on where you are born is really going to dictate the quality of the public education you are going to receive in this country. Some schools have limited resources while others do not. The fact that we have student that have middle school lunch debt tells you how messed up our educational system is. If we can’t afford to pay for kids lunches how do afford to pay teachers a decent wage, and make becoming a teacher a highly sought-after job. This problem of getting the right people on board isn’t one of the only issues, but we also need to allocate resources to get younger people excited about the STEM fields. Unfortunately, new and exciting technology used to excite and invigorate young people costs money. Where schools in lower middle-class cities/towns are more focused on bring up standardized test scores. Which I understand, but it is sad that people miss out on opportunities because they the schooling system is trying to provide everyone with a good enough education while others in impoverished areas don’t face these challenges. I hate to sound like a socialist but unless we make the playing field fair as far as how much money the government provides per student in a school this will always be a systemic issue.
After this rant I don’t mean to imply that blacks and Hispanics live aren’t receiving good educations but I whole heartedly agree that the education they are receiving is a reflection of the average income they receive. That being said we need to change this mentality of good enough education to that of one of excellence, where we provide the next generation of student with the best number of opportunities. That being said how are you going to pursue something if you never knew it existed, we need to fix this larger systemic issue so the pool of candidates of applying to majors in the stem field increases. Not only that but to help close this wage gap identified in the figure below.