By Maria Klawe
This summer I had the honor of attending an event that brought together educators and industry leaders involved in improving the state of STEM education in the U.S. During a panel discussion, I was asked whether I was encouraged or discouraged by where we are today in terms of diversity in STEM education. I am definitely encouraged, but we still have far to go to achieve equity in STEM education for minorities who have been historically underrepresented in STEM fields.
African-American, Latino and Native American students still lag far behind their white and Asian counterparts in terms of participation in math, science and engineering fields. While these underrepresented groups have made some modest gains over the last several decades, their progress has been extremely slow. Worse, over the last decade African Americans’ progress in attaining bachelor’s degrees in engineering, mathematics, computer science and physics has stalled or even reversed.