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.
I believe my hard work paid off. I continued to work towards to master’s degree in Applied Mathematics and entered an information technology career where I still am today: MathWorks documentation. If students can overcome the hurdle of believing in themselves, anything is possible, and no fields are off limits. Sometimes it takes some assistance for kids to grow and become a scientist, engineer, architect, or mathematician. But I can tell you, it’s worth it.
Learn more about this topic in our upcoming Beyond the Microscope webinar “Building a Pathway for Diversity, Equity and Belonging in STEAM” on February 15.
Registration is now closed for this event.