STEMMING the Future

My postings to this blog have often highlighted one of the major socio-technological changes in the United States – the growing diversity of the workforce. Census and demographic data demonstrate the “traditional” pool that supplies today’s technological workforce is shrinking, while untraditional pools such as underrepresented minorities and women groups are growing proportionally, with them making up 1/2 to 2/3 of the population, the new majority, of the United States. If the United States is to maintain remain competitive and continue to compete in the global marketplace, it must draw on all of the talents in its population. The need for a highly skilled technical labor force, the new majority, and the aging population are several factors that drive the need for a comprehensive look at changing the culture of engineering. 

In academic year 2002-03, Latino STEM graduates accounted for 6 percent of all graduates at the bachelor’s level, one percent at the master’s level, and 2 percent (544) at the doctoral level. The unachieved potential of Hispanic and women students in the STEM fields is significant and is critical to harness for the economic future of the United States. To realize this potential will require the support and commitment of the corporate community as well as government, nonprofits, non-governmental organizations, and educational institutions.

David Bressoud, a professor of Mathematics at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and others are doing their part by appearing before Congressional Diversity and Innovation Caucus to make a presentation on “Diversity and the Future of STEM: Filling the Undergraduate Mathematics Education Pipeline.” Dr. Bressoud will be making the case that women, African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans are being lost in the undergraduate mathematics education pipeline. He provides an excellent overview of the situation with regard to women. Next month, Dr. Bressoud will share the data uncovered on minority representation in undergraduate mathematics.

Source: National Science Foundation, Science and Engineering Indicators 2008, Arlington, VA: Available on the internet <>