Fewer than 1% of engineering degrees went to African-American women in 2015

Dive Brief:

  • In 2015, just 937 of the 106,658 engineering bachelor's degrees awarded in the U.S. went to African-American women, Campus Technology reports.
  • The number is highlighted in a new paper, "Ignored Potential: A Collaborative Road Map for Increasing African-American Women in Engineering," issued by Purdue University, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Society of Women Engineers and the Women in Engineering ProActive Network.
  • According to the paper, improving those numbers will require the encouragement of women of color throughout their schooling and careers, as well as investment in recognizing their STEM contributions, and it suggests offering targeted programming, mentoring and prioritizing diversity among possible solutions.

Dive Insight:

STEM jobs are fast becoming a major economic driver in the U.S., so it does the nation no good in the long-term if opportunities to gain experience related to these fields aren't available to all students. Encouraging interest in STEM among girls of color — and girls in general — will require a more concerted effort at the K-12 level, as young as possible, to break existing perceptions that science or math are "for boys," or that of the pocket-protector-wearing, bespectacled poindexter. 

Providing students with role models who look like them is a good place to start, and technology has made them easier than ever to bring them into the classroom via platforms like Skype or Facetime. And the last year has seen an increase in the nation's acknowledgement of the contributions of African-American women to STEM fields, led by the women at NASA highlighted in the Academy Award-nominated film "Hidden Figures."

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Filed Under: Higher Ed K12 Technology