Although minorities are the fastest-growing subset of the U.S. population, they remain considerably underrepresented in science and technology professions, according to this report. It says that African-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics account for 28.5 percent of the population but only 9.1 percent of college-educated workers employed in the science or engineering sectors.
With the minority population increasing and the size of the science and engineering workforce expected to expand faster than any other sector in the next few years, the report said that attracting more workers from minority groups is crucial to maintaining forward momentum and development in these industries.
The authors say that while the United States is a world leader in science, engineering and technological development, the country stands at a “crossroads” that could be addressed by putting more emphasis on education. A UCLA study cited in the report found that the number of underrepresented minority college students who plan to major in STEM [science, technology, engineering or mathematics] fields is comparable to their Asian-American and white peers – yet their degree completion rate is considerably lower, with percentages of 24-year-old minority students who have obtained a STEM undergraduate degree ranging from 2.2 to 3.3 percent.
Describing these students as “a vastly underused resource and a lost opportunity for meeting our nation’s technology needs,” the authors recommend that the federal government, industry representatives and postsecondary institutions partner with K-12 schools to promote interest in, access to and the affordability of postsecondary STEM curriculum and training.
Carnegie Corp. of New York provided funding for the report.
Free, 229 pages. Also published in book form for purchase. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/12984.html.