Student Article keywords: Technology, Cyber World, Education, Diversity, Underrepresented, Talent, Innovation

Fostering Generational Diversity in Big STEM: The Importance of Educational Initiatives.

The next step towards diversity in Big STEM

Josueth Salverredy 24 February, 2024 · 10-15 min. read

Around the world, conference rooms where predominantly white males shape the future through technology often inadvertently hold the key to diversity. This lack of diversity raises ethical concerns and maintains a tight grip on the success of People of Color (POC) and the inclusivity needed for innovation to thrive. While today's world has made significant strides toward achieving a more diverse workforce in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), demographic disparities persist. Although women receive nearly equivalent numbers of science undergraduate degrees as men, the number of women earning degrees in other science fields, such as computer science and engineering, remains significantly low (Fry et al., 2021). Meanwhile, Black and Hispanic employees remain inadequately represented within the STEM sector compared to their proportion in the overall workforce, even in computing positions, which have recently experienced notable expansion (Fry et al., 2021). To achieve a more diverse workforce, we must look beyond STEM companies and into education. The educational prerequisites for many STEM positions act as barriers to diversity in terms of access and interest. As we delve deeper into the challenges and opportunities surrounding diversity in STEM, I aim to offer a comprehensive exploration of potential solutions for fostering a more inclusive workforce.

In recognizing the imperative of fostering diversity within their workforce, STEM companies have a unique opportunity to proactively engage with lower educational institutions in diverse communities, thereby nurturing a more robust pipeline of talented students from underrepresented backgrounds. Across the United States, higher education institutions strive to address this inequality by implementing targeted STEM intervention programs aimed at mitigating the factors that affect the persistence and retention of students in STEM majors (Pearson et al., 2022). In addition to the efforts of colleges and universities, big STEM companies possess the resources and reach to amplify existing initiatives and drive meaningful change in fostering diversity within STEM; beyond traditional avenues like mentoring and sponsorships. These companies can establish comprehensive programs that support underrepresented students throughout their educational journey. While higher education institutions are actively addressing the challenges of diversity in STEM, big STEM companies can complement these efforts by leveraging their resources and influence to implement innovative initiatives that further support underrepresented students' educational journeys.

Big STEM companies have the reach, resources, and influence necessary to enhance diversity within STEM education, particularly by implementing programs in diverse communities and collaborating with educational institutions serving underrepresented students. These companies can employ multifaceted strategies to support underrepresented students and address systemic inequalities. This may include establishing robust mentorship networks that connect students with professionals from similar backgrounds, offering financial assistance through scholarships and grants, and facilitating access to internship opportunities and real-world projects that bridge the gap between academia and industry. Furthermore, Big STEM companies can play a pivotal role in advocating for systemic changes within educational institutions to address the root causes of inequality and ensure equitable access to resources and opportunities for all students. By adopting a proactive and holistic approach to supporting diversity in STEM education, these companies can cultivate a more inclusive workforce and contribute to the long-term success and sustainability of the tech industry as a whole.

Diversity is a cornerstone of success for businesses, particularly within Big STEM. The evidence supporting this assertion is compelling: studies consistently demonstrate that diverse businesses have greater profitability and a distinct advantage in navigating the complexities of today's dynamic marketplace (Larson, 2017). Moreover, diversity in talent acquisition enhances the ability to attract, hire, and retain top talent and significantly reduces costs associated with employee turnover (Quarterly, 2012). Additionally, diverse teams are renowned for their capacity to drive innovative strategies and make superior business decisions, boasting an impressive success rate of 87% (Quarterly, 2012). This enhanced decision-making ability can be attributed to a department-oriented workforce's diverse perspectives and experiences. The research underscores the efficacy of diverse groups in problem-solving, demonstrating that individuals from varied backgrounds can solve challenges more swiftly than non-diverse teams (Reynolds, 2017). In light of these findings, it becomes evident that embracing diversity within Big STEM is not merely a moral imperative but also a strategic imperative for long-term success and sustainability.

In conclusion, the imperative of diversity within STEM cannot be overstated. As highlighted throughout this exploration, the current lack of diversity not only raises ethical concerns but also limits the success and innovation potential within the field. Particularly for marginalized groups such as People of Color and women. Addressing these disparities requires a multifaceted approach that begins with education and extends to the workplace. By proactively engaging with educational institutions and implementing comprehensive diversity initiatives, STEM companies can cultivate a more inclusive workforce that reflects the diversity of society. Moreover, fostering diversity within STEM is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic imperative for driving innovation, enhancing problem-solving, and ensuring long-term success and sustainability in an increasingly global and interconnected world. As we continue to navigate the challenges and opportunities surrounding diversity in STEM, it is essential to remain committed to creating an environment where all individuals, regardless of background, can thrive and contribute to shaping the future of technology and innovation.

Works Cited

Fry, R., et al. “STEM Jobs See Uneven Progress in Increasing Gender, Racial and Ethnic Diversity.” Pew Research Center, 1 April 2021, Accessed 13 February 2024.

J, Pearson, et al. “A systematic multiple studies review of low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented, STEM-degree support programs: Emerging evidence-based models and recommendations. Education Sciences, 12(5), 1–27.” 2022, educsci12050333.

Larson, Erik. “New Research: Diversity + Inclusion = Better Decision Making At Work.” 21 September 2017.

Quarterly, McKinsey, et al. “Is there a payoff from top-team diversity?” 1 April 2012.

Reynolds, Alison, and David Lewis. “Teams Solve Problems Faster When They’re More Cognitively Diverse.” 30 March 2017.