Improving STEM diversity starts with early learning opportunities
- Improving a field's diversity requires a focus on early learning opportunities, according to some experts. One organization in STEM has implemented that approach with a fair, where elementary school students learn about science by eating bugs and building robots, Inside Tuscon Business reports.
- The Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation outreach program trains educators on how to engage kids with a variety of science disciplines. And the fair, Arizona STEM Adventure, focuses on teaching science to girls, minorities and students in low-income areas. They look to make connections and help students find a passion.
- The results are promising: The site reports that it took a few years to get the program up and running, but that of the students who participate in competitions hosted by the foundation, 54% are female, 60% come from schools in low-income areas and 60% are minorities.
Employers are working to increase diversity and bridge the skills gap in STEM careers long before the recruitment process. IBM is partnering with local high schools to develop programming and interest in computer science careers in the hopes of creating a strong applicant pool in the future.
Others are working with vocational schools and creating programs that include job shadowing opportunities and externships.
STEM also needs a rebranding, some say. If the field can make science more accessible to more students, a wider variety of candidates will trickle into the applicant pool, the thinking goes. That’s good news for employers who know the value of a diverse workforce.
- Inside Tuscon Business Kids STEM fair focuses on diversity