Diversity in STEM: How does it impact the US economy?
Our everyday lives have been transformed by the ever-evolving field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Over the years, it has helped us better understand the world.
Whether it is innovating wind-powered cars, predicting natural disasters, or simply your Netflix recommendations, the field of STEM impacts us every day in small or big ways.
Education, employment, research, and innovation in STEM are changing our lives.
As more aspects of our lives, from toothbrushes to Tesla, are driven by technology, employment in STEM has naturally grown rapidly. In the US, STEM jobs have grown 79% since 1990. The growth rate of STEM occupations has been 2X higher than non-STEM occupations.
However, despite powering the US economy and growth in employment, there is currently a lack of diversity in STEM.
Then, What is the cost of such a lack of diversity in STEM Education?
A lack of diversity hinders the STEM workforce's strength, slow job expansions across various fields in STEM, and a limited lens on research and innovation. Consequently, a decrease in the quality and quantity of growth in the US economy.
What exactly is workforce diversity?
Workforce diversity comprises the collective mixture of individuals' differences and similarities. Different ethnicities, sexual orientations, socioeconomic statuses, ages, genders, religions, degrees of ableness (physical abilities and disabilities), and other differences.
Inequity and underrepresentation in STEM
Currently, the STEM ecosystem is inequitable. The majority of STEM workers in the US are white (69%), followed by Asians (13%), blacks (9%), and Hispanics (7%).
According to the latest survey, women comprise just 27% of the STEM workforce, despite comprising 50% of the total college-educated workforce.
When looking at these crucial numbers, it is quite clear that there is inequity and underrepresentation of people from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and gender.
While there has been growth in the numbers of underrepresented groups in recent years, many improvements still need to be made.
STEM professionals play a critical role in determining solutions that impact at national and international levels. A lack of diversity and underrepresentation will limit perspectives, experiences, and the overall impact of the STEM workforce on the economy.
The impact of diversity
The STEM field is the basis for all upcoming scientific and technological discoveries.
A diverse group of people brings different lenses, experiences, questions, and passions to scientific research, resulting in better results. Scientific progress relies on people learning new things and studying existing things in new ways.
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests a more diverse team outperforms a more homogeneous team - even if the homogeneous team is considered to have "relatively greater abilities" as individuals.
The likelihood of scientific success increases with more inclusion, promoting economic growth and competitiveness. America's global competitiveness depends on STEM education and employment.
In his book, The Difference, Professor Scott Page reveals a mathematical rationale and logic for diversity, proving that "the diversity of the problem solvers matters more than their ability." Thus, STEM diversity will enhance the quality of work and help achieve it.
Access to STEM education is not just a social justice issue but a keystone for economic growth.
Interestingly, the representation of various marginalized ethnicities has been growing in STEM, so there's still hope.
How to pave the way for diversity in STEM?
More participation from marginalized groups is the only solution to bringing diversity to STEM. Providing support and empowering students with skills and employment is crucial to promote diversity. Here are different ways to foster diversity through increased participation:
Partnering with Human Resources
Train your hiring committee or partner on building effective DEI recruiting initiatives and create a conducive environment for different experiences at your organization. Commit to developing diverse candidates with high potential.
STEM mentoring programs enable students to prepare and upskill for a global workforce. The US government also community-specific STEM mentoring programs like The Hidden Genius Project (for young Black men) and the Latino STEM Alliance (for low-income students of color).
Encourage Students to Pursue Degrees & Certificates
Students who fine-tune their expertise and business skills are more likely to grab good opportunities in STEM. Cogent University provides 8-week courses with certification and also helps students find the perfect opportunity.
Our industry-specific Java and Data Analytics certifications have empowered students to leverage their potential in the STEM job market.
Network with Advocates of Diversity
Most organizations today, private or public, have assigned advocates of diversity who help to maintain diversity in organizations. It's always a good idea to connect and network with them. Attending events and conferences to gather information is a key step in promoting diversity.
One such conference is the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), the largest multidisciplinary and multicultural conference for diversity in STEM.
Join Professional Organizations
Many organizations are established to encourage diversity and advancement of STEM; join them to promote and foster representation of diverse communities. Some of the examples include the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), American Indian Science, and National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), and Engineering Society (AISES)
We understand the importance of ensuring a diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environment. Diversity in STEM is directly proportional to the growth of the US economy. Our efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM education and employment foster economic growth in the US.
Cogent Infotech won 4 Comparably Culture Awards in 2022 for Diversity, Women, Growth & Leadership. With a 2:3 gender ratio and 32% women in leadership roles, 60% of the workforce belongs to minority groups. Cogent is winning at inculcating a diverse workforce.
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