$25 million commitment builds coalition to increase women in STEM

In an effort to close the gender gap in STEM, a $25 million commitment from the Lyda Hill Foundation will help to build a coalition of science institutions along with names and brands in popular culture to help fund and elevate women in STEM fields. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the coalition members, will select 100 women in STEM professions to serve as ambassadors for the new IF/THEN Initiative, to help build skills and opportunities among middle school girls in science communication, public engagement, media, diversity and inclusion, and STEM education.

Federal government presents strategic plan for STEM education

Envisioning a future where all Americans will have lifelong access to high-quality STEM education, and where the U.S. will be the global leader in STEM literacy, innovation and employment, the federal government released a five-year strategic plan for STEM education. Noting that the federal government has a key role to play in furthering STEM education and removing barriers to participation in STEM careers, especially for women and other underrepresented groups, the report issues a call to action for a nationwide collaboration with learners, families, educators, communities and employers.

Cohorts and other strategies to help individuals from underrepresented groups graduate with STEM degrees

While diversity plays a critical role in both improving the quality and increasing the rate of innovation, women and several minority groups remain underrepresented in STEM fields. Several studies find that improving the retention rate of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM at the college level can have significant impacts on improving the diversity and representativeness of the STEM workforce. For women and other underrepresented groups, the college experience can create unique roadblocks and barriers that ultimately cause them to switch majors or even leave college. Several recent studies have examined strategies to improve the retention rate of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM degrees at institution of higher education. The strategies range from pre-college STEM academies to establishing cohorts of underrepresented students.

AL launches program to connect HBCU students, professional learning experiences

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivy announced the Alabama HBCU Co-Op Pilot Program to provide students at the state’s 14 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with the opportunity for hands-on work experience in STEM fields as well as create greater collaboration between Alabama’s HBCUs, industry, and government. Participating students will be required to complete three co-op semesters with some of the state’s top companies in order to gain a sense of professional experience in the area of their majors. Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive a Certificate of Completion. The pilot program is scheduled to launch in early 2019.

Balancing STEM training and retraining needs

As the National Science Foundation announces awards for five new regional academic centers to encourage underrepresented populations to pursue and attain college degrees related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), a recent working paper from two Harvard researchers finds an explanation for the popularly perceived persistent shortage of STEM workers: changes in technology.  The rapid pace of technological change is making the skills of the existing STEM workfor

NSF, NASA step up minority STEM-focused awards

As the National Science Foundation points out in a recent press release, people of Hispanic descent comprise 16 percent of the U.S. workforce, but only 6 percent of people working in STEM-related occupations.  Other minorities, including African Americans and Native Americans are also underrepresented in the career paths most critical to maintain American preeminence in innovation and science. New funding rounds distributed by three federal initiatives at NSF and NASA intend to help improve the imbalance.

STEM field facing multiple gaps

Noting that we have reached a point in time where STEM “influences every aspect of our education, work, and community life,” STEMconnector, a professional services firm, has released a new report that examines the current state of the field, identifies gaps and makes recommendations for action and investment. State of STEM highlights “five critical gaps” in the STEM workforce: a fundamental skills gap; belief gap; postsecondary education gap; geographic gap; and, demographic gap.

Fewer STEM courses offered in high minority schools

The majority (75 percent) of all high school students were enrolled in a STEM course during the 2015-16 school year, according to the newest Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). For the first time, the CRDC includes new categories of data on STEM course taking, showing that some higher level math and science courses are offered at fewer high schools.

NSF finds gender inclusion benefit within programs

In a report of FY 2011-2016 data, the National Science Foundation finds that rate of female participants in its currently-funded Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) may be higher than for overall engineering programs. Specifically, participation among female faculty is better by about seven percent, by about 15 percent among female undergraduates, and a more modest 1-2 percent increase among doctorate students.

Second set of NSF INCLUDES awards focuses on increasing STEM diversity

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced the recipients of 27 Design and Development Launch Pilots as part of its INCLUDES initiative. The initiative is aimed at enhancing U.S. leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) discoveries and innovations through a commitment to diversity and inclusion. The 27 pilots feature public-private partnerships that will develop blueprints for broadening STEM participation and are funded through two-year, $300,000 grants.


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