Broccoli vs Mathematics? STEM and Minority Populations

Special Note: Much thanks to three of my St. John’s University students, Wilfredo Abrahante, Kim Casaburi, and Tanya Weisberger for contributing to this blog entry!
 
 
 
The Raytheon Co., one of Massachusetts’ leading employers of STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics)  professionals, conducted a survey of 1,000 middle school students across the country and asked them if they preferred doing math homework or eating broccoli. The winner, with 56 percent of the vote was … broccoli.
 
We could certainly future THAT tidbit lots of ways. For one thing it certainly suggests a DIStaste for mathematics that supersedes the general perception of youngsters’ preference for broccoli.
 
If this is true, and if other potential negative assumptions generate about American education from this, what does this suggests about education’s impact on our ability to maintain a leading role in the 21st century global economy?
 
Consider other related facts:
 
Black and Latinos, compared to Asians and whites, only have about half as many post secondary college degrees.
 
The Center for American Progress and the Center for the Next Generation released a joint report showing that more than half of U.S. postsecondary students drop out without receiving a degree.
 
When it comes to STEM jobs, the pipeline issue is complicated further. The U.S. Department of Commerce projected that in the decade leading up to 2018, STEM occupations would grow by 17 percent, compared with 9.8 percent growth for all other occupations.
 
 Across the country, across all occupations, there are 3.6 people for every one job. In STEM fields, there is one person for every 1.9 jobs.
 
Employers can’t find the talent to fill these jobs, which is even more surprising considering that the U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that the median salary for engineering majors was the highest of any profession.
 
Supply is low and demand is high.
 
There is a mismatch between projected future jobs requiring STEM skills and the projected supply of qualified workers to fill them.
 
Minorities and women are highly under-represented in STEM occupations.
What are we going to do?

Readers of this blog know that a skill of Futuring certainly involves studying trends. And one undeniable trend is the accelerating rate of immigration from Hispanic countries to the United States. In addition the birth rate of the current Hispanic population in the United States suggests that by roughly mid century that set of ethnic groups will be the majority in the country.

A metaphor comes to mind … If the decision makers, educational and political, do not make concerted efforts to include all minority populations, including females of all ethnicities, in quality education that gives STEM subjects its proper due, it would be tantamount to playing baseball with one arm tied behind out collective backs. In other words, we would be limiting / hampering our entire country’s ability to continue to be the economic and social power we presume ourselves to be.

So if you don’t take this as a moral imperative at least consider this as an economic one.

The cross impact matrix below, certainly not a complete one, projects certain probable futures and how these could impact our country in a variety of ways. Use it to project your own futures.

More importantly use it to chart PREFERRED futures!

POSSIBLE FUTURE MINORITIES UNITED STATES US WORKERS US ECONOMY
INCREASED NEED FOR STEM JOBS IF IGNORED RELEGATED TO UNSKILLED LABOR NEED TO DEVELOP REAL PLAN FOR ENCOURAGING TRAINING IN CAN ONLY KEEP ECONOMY GOING IF ADJUSTMENTS MADE WIIL DECLINE IF PROPER ATTENTION IS NOT DEVOTED
OUT PERFORMED BY OTHER COUNTRIES WILL COMPETE WITH OTHERS FOR LOW PAY JOBS MAY DEVELOP SHORT SIGHTED PLANS WILL SUFFER FOR LACK OF PLAN AND WILL WILL SUFFER IN ALL ASPECTS
LACK OF CONCERTED EFFORT TO ENCOURAGE STEM EDUCATION BECOME A PERPETUAL UNDERCLASS ISSUE BECOMES A POLITICAL FOOTBALL BECOME VICTIMS TO POOR PLANNING MUST SEEK OTHER FORMS OF VIABILITY
LACK OF CONCERTED EFFORT TO INCLUDE MINORITIES PERPETUAL UNDERCLASS COULD LEAD TO SOCIAL UNREST ELITE FEW HAVE PROSPERITY DIVIDED BETWEEN HAVES AND HAVE NOTS LACK OF DIRECTION SPIRALS DOWNWARD