Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation in STEM

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A new Carnegie Corporation-funded report published by the National Academies cites relatively low levels of minority representation in science and engineering, and offers recommendations on how to solve it.

The report — “Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads” — shows that underrepresented minorities (African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans) represent 28.5 percent of the U.S. population but only 9.1 percent of college-educated Americans in the science and engineering workforce.

The National Academies are the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, National Research Council, and Institute of Medicine, which are federally chartered advisory organizations.

The report reveals some of the challenges the country must address in order to develop a stronger and more diverse workforce. Although minorities are the fastest growing segment of the population, and demographic shifts point toward a future in which some states will soon be “majority minority” states, these groups are underrepresented in the fields of science and engineering.

If the country is to continue its growth and maintain global leadership of the economy, the report says that the federal government, industry, and post-secondary institutions must work collaboratively with K-12 schools and school systems to increase minority access to and demand for post-secondary STEM education and technical training.

In June 2009, Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Institute for Advanced Study issued The report sounded an urgent call for a national mobilization to "transform mathematics and science education and deliver it equitably and with excellence to all students." It also recommended concrete actions by a range of organizations — from labor and business to federal and state government, schools and colleges, and donors. More than 65 groups affirmed their support.  As part of this multi-sector effort, Carnegie Corporation pledges to extend the work of the Opportunity Equation (www.OpportunityEquation.org) and apply a strategic focus on STEM learning to all its education grantmaking. The foundation strives to enable all students, including historically underserved populations and immigrants, to achieve academic success and perform with high levels of creative, scientific, and technological knowledge and skill. Current priorities include upgrading the standards and assessments that guide student learning, improving teaching and ensuring that effective teachers are well deployed in our nation's schools, and promoting innovative new school and system designs.