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Wrapping Up: Our Conversation on Increasing Diversity in STEM Education and the Workforce

March 5, 2013 - 9:43am

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Watch our science and tech experts answer questions and share advice on STEM Education and Careers.

The national alarm has been sounded. While industry demand for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals is building at a feverish pace, there’s a major roadblock to filling these jobs. The STEM gap is widening for women and minorities. Blacks and Latinos represent about 28 percent of the U.S. population yet account for only 7 percent of America’s STEM workforce. We need to address this troubling issue as a country.

Last week, I hosted a panel of science, technology and innovation experts for a live Google+ Hangout on increasing diversity in STEM education and the workforce. To discuss what we can do about this trend, I spoke with Dr. Mae Jemison, physicist, engineer and the first woman of color in space; Dr. Karina Edmonds, aeronautical engineer and Technology Transfer Coordinator at the Energy Department; and Bryan Carter, student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and alumnus of our National Science Bowl competition.

As the panel discussed, we must all take every opportunity to work with young people and show them that science isn’t a world of dry numbers and long equations -- it’s a world that enables us to have cell phones, cook dinner, take medicine and even brush our teeth. By sharing the real-world applications of science, the panel encouraged young people to enter STEM fields and exposed them to STEM careers. It can only take one moment to spark a life-long interest in science.

On Twitter, people followed along the conversation using #STEMhangout, and asked questions. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, like U.S Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), joined the Twitter conversation, re-emphasizing the need to strengthen our workforce by increasing the number of minorities in STEM.

By increasing the participation of these underrepresented groups in STEM education and careers and bringing all voices to the conversation, America will be better equipped to lead the world in energy, science and innovation.

March is National Women’s History month and the conversation continues. We must harness the educational resources to empower our young girls to enter into the STEM workforce. The Obama Administration and the Energy Department fully understand that a strong workforce is a diverse one and will use this month to highlight the many ways we are encouraging the next generation of women in STEM career fields. Keep following the work on this important issue, and sign up for email updates from my office for current information about our work.

 

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