The need for more African Americans in the fields of science and technology is no secret. Google is hoping to help close this void. The company recently completed its The Generation Google Scholarship for this year.
Generation Google Scholarships go to qualified minority students that want to pursue an education in technology fields. Google offered the scholarship opportunity to graduating high school seniors from an underrepresented group including African-Americans, Hispanic, women, etc. in computer science. The application deadline was February 20, 2012. The scholarship was made available to aspiring computer scientists planning to attend a four-year university in the fall to study computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, or any related field. Applicants had to demonstrate leadership and a commitment to and passion for computer science and technology through involvement in their community. They also had to have a strong academic record, be from an underrepresented group in computer science and demonstrate financial need. Winners will receive $10,000 each year for up to four years.
Google hopes this will encourage more minorities to earn STEM degrees. “STEM fields” is a U.S. government acronym for the fields of study in the categories of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. According to experts, the percentage of African-Americans earning STEM degrees has dropped over the past 10 years.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2009, African Americans, who are 12 percent of the U.S. population and 11 percent of all students beyond high school, received only seven percent of all STEM bachelor's degrees, four percent of master's degrees, and two percent of PhDs. The numbers seem even more discouraging when broken down by field: In 2009, African-Americans received one percent of degrees in science technologies; four percent of degrees in math and statistics; and out of 5,048 PhDs awarded in the physical sciences, such as chemistry and physics, less than two percent (89) went to African-Americans.
And according to Google, the response to the scholarship opportunities was more than encouraging. "We were incredibly pleased at the response to our new Generation Google Scholarship, intended to support aspiring computer scientists from groups traditionally underrepresented in the field," says a Google spokesperson. "As part of Google's ongoing commitment to advancing computing and technology, we provide scholarships to encourage students to excel in their studies and become active role models and leaders. We hope these programs will also help in dismantling barriers that keep women and minorities from entering computing and technology fields. We'll announce the recipients in mid-April."