Science, technology, engineering, and math careers are crucial to the workforce today. These careers are often at the forefront of societal change, be it better methods of completing a task, or modifying the physical world which surrounds us. While these careers have a huge impact on the way we live, they are still predominantly held by white males. When one portion of society is leading the change for the future, we miss out on opportunities for other perspectives.
Companies and non-profit organizations are aware of the need for diversity in STEM fields. Many corporations or professional organizations have task forces or committees designed to bring more diversity into their work forces. However, the problem still exists that minorities are not graduating with STEM degrees that then feed into the pipeline of STEM careers. If there aren’t candidates out there to hire, then corporations will fail at increasing diversity within their offices.
How, then, do we increase the diversity of STEM professionals? We need to ensure we are promoting STEM careers to children at a young age, and we need to do so in a way that shows children that people who look like them or have a similar background as them can have these great careers. Minority children need role models that are representative of who they are. The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Society of Women Engineers are just a few professional organizations that work hard to increase diversity in STEM fields. These organizations can be great resources to schools and educators who wish to bring in speakers or presenters who can connect with their students.
We need to ensure children who have an interest in these fields have opportunities to explore the careers and don’t get sidelined along the way.