Also called ethnic studies or culturally responsive teaching, cultural competence in education is a way of focusing on a diversity of cultures, rather than a single narrative, to expand teaching in the classroom. Increasingly, educators are incorporating it within all subject areas, including STEM.
Our future depends on a robust scientific workforce. But racial and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in these fields, and millions of people who should be making important breakthroughs are instead--whether because of inadequate public education where they live, a lack of resources and support for college and graduate school, discrimination as they try to get their first job, or a culture of science that weeds out rather than encourages undergraduates--doing other work.
Throughout his career, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Fellow Jason Sheltzer noticed gender bias in hiring. He has published research pointing out that women were underrepresented in research labs where the PI had won a Nobel Prize or been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and for independent fellow positions. "We're at this junction point where there is overwhelming evidence describing the barriers that women can face in STEM careers, and there is much less data about what the best way to address it is," Sheltzer said.
What would be the most important factor in creating workspaces that excel at building creative solutions? The answer is building a culture where diversity in thoughts, perspectives and way of life is encouraged for employees to venture forward, according to executives at Chicago’s most innovative companies.
Thomas and King are particularly focused on recruiting Black and Latinx men. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that just two percent of teachers are Black men, yet research shows their presence in classrooms matters. In STEM fields, where Blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in the workforce, representation is also critical to help students imagine themselves as scientists, engineers or mathematicians.
Engineers and scientists routinely push society forward with innovations that contribute to economic growth and make our lives safer, healthier, and more sustainable. Today, the STEM sector is experiencing rapid growth. But as our world faces increasingly complex issues like climate change, cybersecurity, and election interference, the lack of gender and racial diversity within science, technology, engineering and math fields threatens to stall progress toward solutions.
As part of that, Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujani announced that the organization has been working with Rosen’s team to draft what she called the “first-ever federal Girls Who Code legislation to encourage states to start reporting on their gender diversity data.” The nonprofit has successfully promoted and helped pass laws that track gender diversity in computing in two states so far this year...
To address gaps in women and minorities entering STEM careers, Pitsco Education and SmartGurlz are debuting Smart Buddies, a new solution that focuses on third to fifth grade students. The app guides students through a virtual experience in which "buddies" lead them through a series of coding exercises.
Although few studies on LGBTQ people in STEM exist, the growing evidence is sadly unsurprising. Estimates suggest LGBTQ people are roughly 20 percent less represented in STEM fields than expected. When LGBTQ people persist in STEM, they report more negative workplace experiences than their non-LGBTQ counterparts, and roughly 70 percent of out STEM faculty members report feeling uncomfortable in their department.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women make up 47 percent of the labor force, but only 13 percent of engineers are women. Currently, only 28 percent of STEM professions are filled by non-white people. But, by 2050, there will no longer be a majority race. The diversifying population makes it clear that America’s future global competitiveness requires engaging students at all stages of the educational pathway.