Educational Choices Among Students of Different Races Contributes to Lack of Diversity in STEM Workforce
Although female and male students earn high school math and science credits at similar rates, boys are still far more likely to participate in engineering and technology courses and major in STEM subjects during their post secondary education. The National Center for Education Statistics published the latest update for their 2009 High School Transcript Study, which revealed blatant differences in how students of different genders and races earn STEM credits during high school.
Earlier this year, data was shared by Change the Equation, which stated that the STEM workforce is no more diverse now than in 2001. The report addressed the stagnate nature of STEM diversity and concluded that the demographics of STEM fields remain largely unchanged. The data published by NCES shines some light on educational choices that has contributed to the so-called STEM "crisis."
According to the report, Asian students outperform all other students in nearly all categories. They're more likely to join tougher math and science classes, consider majoring in STEM after high school and earn more STEM credits. Also, Hispanic and black students remain far behind their white counterparts when selecting upper-level STEM courses.
Since 2009, NCES researchers tracked 20,000 then ninth-grade students. In 2013, they updated findings on those students, sharing how those students progressed in the STEM realm. In the time that passed, researchers found that boys and girls were evenly as likely to go as far as calculus in high school math (15 percent for both male and female students). That same research showed that 45 percent of Asian students took calculus, which is a significantly larger percentage than any other race. Approximately 18 percent of white students, 10 percent of Hispanic students and 6 percent of black students took the course.
Male and female students were just as likely to take Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses as their high school science course (15 percent and 13 percent, respectively). Forty percent of Asian students took AP or IB courses, as well as 16 percent of white students, 10 percent of Hispanic students and 8 percent of black students.
On average, male and female students earned 7.6 STEM credits, with girls earning slightly more credits than boys in science and math. However, boys earned more credits in engineering and computer science. Also, while other races averaged between 7.2 and 7.8 STEM credits, Asian students averaged 8.5.
Twenty-one percent of male students earned credit in engineering and technology, compared to 8 percent of female students. Gaps shrink when it comes to computer and information science: 49 percent of boys and 45 percent of girls earn credits in those areas. Also, white students were more likely than students of another race to earn credits in those same areas.
Findings showed that male students were twice as likely to consider STEM majors (33 percent compared to 14 percent). Also, nearly 42 percent of Asian students have consider the same, compared to 25 percent of white students, 20 percent of Hispanic students and 15 percent of black students.
Nationwide, the workforce for STEM is aging, and it's important to swarm the science, technology, education and mathematics field with a diverse selection of capable, bright workers. Part of that challenge is pushing students of all backgrounds to see the importance of STEM education.
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