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Students of color studying science, technology, engineering and math (collectively known as STEM) are underrepresented at schools around the country and even though most don’t face overt racism they face a set of challenges that have led to persistent issues of under-representation at the graduate levels and across STEM professions.
African-American and Latino workers comprise just 16 percent of the advanced manufacturing workforce, 15 percent of the computing workforce and 12 percent of the engineering workforce, rates that have remained essentially flat for more than a decade, according to the 2015 US News/Raytheon STEM Index.
According to one recent study, 37.5 percent of white and Asian-American students completed STEM degrees after five years, while completion rates for African-American and Latino students were 22.1 percent and 18.4 percent respectively.
It’s no longer enough to just teach students. We need to ask, ‘What tools do we need to retain them?’
Historically black colleges and universities represent just 3 percent of all colleges but 27 percent of all STEM degrees earned by black students. Small liberal arts colleges may also be more explicitly inclusive, sources say. “There’s something different about going to a liberal arts college to study STEM,” says Hightower. “It’s very community-oriented. The faculty cares for the students and wants us to believe in ourselves.”
Read the full article on STEM Diversity by Stuart Miller at The Hechinger Report