How to Overcome The Lack Of Diversity In STEM Careers

STEM occupations require skills and education related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. For decades, these career fields have skewed white and Asian and mostly male. Technology jobs in particular lack diversity with less than 20 percent of workers at large tech companies belonging to a minority group. Even among companies that have pursued an inclusive hiring strategy, minorities rarely achieve high-ranking leadership positions in the C-suite. Strategies exist that can help forward-thinking companies achieve a workforce and leadership that represents the general population. However, the educational pipeline makes the task more challenging due to a lack of diversity among STEM students.

Strategies For Inclusive Hiring

Building a diverse STEM staff does not happen overnight. Correcting the problem relies on first acknowledging that minorities and women are underrepresented on the payroll. A long-term plan is needed to reach out to previously excluded job candidates. Hiring, onboarding, and training practices will require an overhaul that strips out the biases blocking some job seekers. Companies may find the motivation to improve diversity by accepting that a diverse workforce deepens their pool of talent and ultimately increases competitiveness.

Educational Diversity Needed

Due to the technical demands of STEM jobs, education is critical for preparing all people to fill those roles. STEM workers have bachelor or post-graduate degrees at twice the rate of the general workforce.

Even though women earn the most college and post-graduate degrees of any demographic, very few of them earn degrees in computer science or engineering. Black and Hispanic students are the least likely to pursue STEM degrees. Compared to their numbers within the overall adult population, they represent the smallest share of STEM graduates.

Ebony Stadler, a rising senior studying biomedical engineering at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, participates in a 10-week summer research program. Credit: Office of Naval Research

Do you think that sincere efforts by employers to improve diversity could inspire more women and minorities to study for STEM occupations?


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The C-Suite Network™ was founded by Jeffrey Hayzlett, Karl Post and Thomas White as the world’s most trusted network of C-Suite leaders. Prior to C-Suite Network, White started 10 companies in the fields of technology, publishing, market research and corporate consulting. He also holds four patents and is co-author of a book on business process technology. Mr. White retired from the organization in 2017.

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