Minorities are vastly underrepresented in STEM professions. Despite STEM consisting of some of the largest growing fields, there has been a decrease in employment of minorities in STEM jobs.
The best way to prepare minority students for jobs in STEM is to have them equally prepared for the workforce once they graduate. This puts students on an intellectually equal level, despite there still being obstacles to reach STEM careers. Here are some tips to get minority students on the right path to finding their future STEM fields.
1) Start minority students off early in STEM programs. The earlier students engage in STEM, the more likely they will show an interest in it. Start engaging students in elementary and middle schools so that they will be prepared for high school science and math, experience success, and be more likely to pursue those subjects in college.
2) Get minority students access to STEM resources. Often, minority students don’t start off with the same access to programs as non-minority students. This can provide for an unfair playing field as the students gets older. Allowing minority students access to STEM resources will help them be better prepared for future classes and eventually the workforce. And with jobs expected to grow by 17% in STEM fields, students will have a higher rate of getting a job after graduating when compared to other fields. If your school and classroom budgets are tight, consider applying for STEM grants.
3) Have students engage in minority STEM programs and organizations. There are plenty of programs out there that aim to help minority students in STEM programs. Black Girls Code offers classes and programs to young black girls to teach them computer coding. NASA offers Minority University Research and Education Programs, or MUREP to minorities that “increases the participation of minority-serving institutions in NASA research and development to increase the number of minority students pursuing higher education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” Another program is the MESA program, providing classes to minority students who may not have access to the best resources. A program called the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, or NACME, also prepares minority students to work in engineering. Many schools also offer programs, clubs, or extracurricular activities geared towards providing minorities with engaging and helpful STEM resources.
4) Allow students to see other minorities in their STEM fields as role models. There are some very prominent minorities working within the fields of STEM. When students have a role model to look up to, they are more likely to see themselves in a similar profession and continue with STEM education. Some wonderful minorities in STEM include Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, who was the first black woman to earn a doctorate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, who is a Mexican neurosurgeon and researcher at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
5) Help minority students find STEM scholarships. There are plenty of scholarships that are offered to minorities interested in studying STEM. For many minority students, tuition is a huge barrier on their way to a STEM career. Scholarships can help remove that barrier and help students on a path to a STEM degree. Many websites, like this one, provide lists of excellent scholarships for minorities. There are also many scholarships available that are geared specifically towards STEM program students. Check out our tips for helping students get STEM scholarships.
Because of the lack of diversity in the STEM workforce, there is a real need to get minorities involved in STEM. By implementing some of these tips, you can help students be more aware of and prepared for success in STEM programs.