Creating a Diverse STEM Workforce

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LMC_STEM_workforceWhere are all my peeps at?

Have you considered a career in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM)? These careers certainly need more representation from our communities! The Bureau of Labor Statistics says not only do STEM careers account for more than 10% of the job market, but also pay more than twice the median wage of an average job (2013).

Unfortunately, Hispanic, African-American, Native American and female employees, in general, are underrepresented in the STEM job market. The numbers are vastly different, 70.8% of the STEM workforce are white, non-Hispanic, while just 6.4% are black and 6.5% are Hispanic or Latino. African Americans and Latinos have been continuously underrepresented in the STEM workforce since these studies have been done starting in 1970.

Women are also underrepresented in the STEM fields. Although women are 53% of college graduates, they are only 26% of STEM professionals. That means men are comparatively 74% of the STEM workforce.

So what do all of these numbers mean? Over 70% of the STEM workforce is white and male. That is not what our community and country look like.

Why is a diverse STEM workforce valuable? One word… INNOVATION. STEM is geared around new discoveries, different ways of thinking and advancement. A more diverse workforce to pull new ideas and better problem-solving from a variety of ways of thinking.  Having people from different cultural and gender backgrounds bringing different ways of thinking to the talent pool increases the likelihood of more innovation.

Los Medanos College is filling the need

Los Medanos College has several places where diverse students are being fostered to seek STEM degrees.

MESA Program: Math Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Program provides academic support for educationally and economically disadvantaged students so they can excel in STEM. MESA helps develop academic and leadership skills for students to successfully transfer and later graduate from a four-year university.

S-STEM Scholars Program: S-STEM Scholars Program provides scholarships for low-income LMC students and includes mentoring from faculty/professionals to help guide students through the education and career process.

SACNAS: Society for the Advancement of Chicano/Hispanic and Native American Scientists. This LMC club is part of a national organization whose mission is dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanic and Native American scientists.

WinS: Women in STEM is a club on campus whose mission is to encourage and support women who are pursuing or wish to pursue a career in STEM and spread awareness of the need for more women in the STEM  fields.

ET- Engineering Tech Club: In 2015-2016 eleven students were involved in a NASA design project that took them all the way to Houston, Texas. The Club’s goal is to increase awareness and inclusivity in the engineering fields while giving club members more experience with hands-on projects.

STEM Ambassadors: The ambassador program has LMC students tutor both in class and after school students in STEM at local high schools to help encourage entrance and success in STEM fields.

Come visit us and see the exciting opportunities in STEM that we have for you.

For more information, visit www.losmedanos.edu/stem.

– Nicole Trager, PhD

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