Building a Pathway for Diversity, Equity and Belonging in STEAM

Beyond the Microscope Blog Post | January 21, 2021

by Aimee Khan, Communications Volunteer

Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) education and career paths are often overlooked by people of color and women due to a lack of interest or belief in themselves. Without enough immersion and education opportunities, these minorities could forego the discovery of a lifelong passion. That is why Kids in Tech provides the knowledge and resources for these students to excel in a STEAM domain of their choosing and become future leaders in tech and science.

In 2009 according to a survey (Abiola A. Farinde, 2012), only 9.7% female and 14.9% black undergraduate students graduated with a STEM major. We expect today, more than a decade later, those statistics have risen, in part due to work from outreach organizations and afterschool programming.

As a woman in tech, I feel strongly about the inclusion of all races and backgrounds in STEAM education and enrichment. I experienced an undergraduate education in Chemical Engineering from UMass Amherst and was a member of the Minority Engineering Program (MEP) where I tutored many underrepresented minorities trying to earn an engineering degree. I found that what they most struggled with was confidence. They would know the answer but were too afraid to make the assertion that they were right. That caused them to stumble and doubt themselves. I believe that culture enforces those stereotypes that get into our subconscious mind, making us feel inferior or lesser if we are not like the majority. Therefore, not only are programs that encourage students to be exposed to STEAM topics useful, they ease them into having a strong intuition about these topics so they can develop the confidence they need to succeed.

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Path to diversity in STEM starts with education, opportunity

Beyond the Microscope | January 6, 2021

By Michaela Goss, Communications Volunteer

Just under half of K-12 schools nationwide have dedicated computer science curriculums, and that amount shrinks further for low-income students and students of color.

This is true for the majority of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses, too, as students from marginalized backgrounds are less likely to have dedicated STEM curriculum or advanced placement STEM courses available to them. According to the Kapor Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to making the field of technology more diverse, students from marginalized communities are offered advanced STEM courses at a rate 12 times lower than students in more affluent schools.

Simply having the opportunity to take an advanced computer science course increases the likelihood of students entering a computer science career or studying computer science should they attend higher education, according to the Kapor Center. Students need the opportunity to see themselves in STEM roles in order to pursue those career paths, and the lack of that opportunity demonstrates an unfortunately common obstacle in low-income schools.

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