STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) has become almost a mantra of the Obama administration. But how are women and minorities faring when it comes to obtaining degrees in these areas and becoming potential powerhouses in these industries? Forbes magazine recently ranked a number of schools in terms of which excelled in undergraduate STEM programs for women and minorities. The top 10 for minorities are as follows:
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, MN
Westmont College, CA
Colorado College, CO
Christopher Newport University, VA
University of Colorado, CO
St. Mary’s College of Maryland, MD
Texas Tech University, TX
University of Massachusetts, MA
Tulane University of Louisiana, LA
Georgia Southern University, GA
The institutions were chosen based on their ability to excel at teaching in the category coupled with the percentage of minorities within the school receiving degrees in STEM compared to other races. According to the American Council on Education, 57% of all college students are women–but women only represent 45% of college math majors, 20% of computer science majors and 20% of engineering majors. And a report from the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering showed that only 12.5% of the engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2006 went to underrepresented minorities, including blacks, Hispanics and American Indians.
But there are several factors besides education, which play a part in the increase of women and minorities in the STEM industries. According to Monique Boea of the organization African-American Women in Technology, “Unfortunately the ‘good old boys network’ still exists. It just looks different today. In order to attract more black women to STEM degree programs and careers, you have to convince them that they actually have a chance to make it. Many still believe that they will get passed over for jobs and promotions to management and feel that they will need to work harder than their white counterparts while earning less. Companies simply have to do a better job at hiring more minorities that are in the position to hire and promote. Not just in the major corporations but in medium-sized companies as well. If Black women saw more top executives in the position to empower their careers, they would feel more confident about pursuing STEM careers.” Indeed, as women and minorities continue to out-index in new media usage, it will be imperative to further educate and insert those who are actually from the demographic of influencers in order to connect most with this growing powerhouse of consumers. Educational institutions and businesses, which adopt these practices now, will possess competitive leverage for today and tomorrow.
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