Based on nationwide data in the United States, Hispanics are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) career fields. This means that there are fewer Hispanic decision makers in these fields. For the most part this is because many college students have chosen to major in humanities or social sciences rather than STEM fields.
So what’s wrong with this picture? Some might think this situation represents a “problem” for occupations in STEM in lacking diversified cultural representation along with other experiences that are uniquely associated with Hispanics, including, but not limited to, their bilingual skills or socio-economic status. Under this assumption, the notion is that it is important that cultural diversity exists in all fields because all fields are meant to be serving all Americans in one way or another. Our government would agree, which is one of the reasons it has provided incentives for public educational institutions to assist with increasing the number of students majoring in STEM fields.
Per recent government research, it is projected that STEM occupations will increase in the next few years, at least in the United States. To assist in expanding ethnic and cultural diversity and make it more equitable in STEM fields, many states along with the federal government are establishing financial incentives for public schools that have a population that is at least 25% Hispanic, with the intent to increase the number of minority students majoring in STEM.
STEM occupations cover a diversity of occupations that include, but are not limited to, engineers, research analysts, computer programmers, mathematicians, scientists, and economists.
Traditionally, Hispanic students don’t tend to study STEM majors. Instead, humanities, education, and social sciences have been the most common areas of study for Hispanic students living in the U.S. Certainly, one could speculate about students’ motivations for entering certain fields over others, but the government has taken a more proactive approach and is interested in filling those inequity gaps via various financial incentives.
So, what does this mean for parents? Here are three reasons why Hispanic parents and the whole family might want to assist their children at a young age to become interested in STEM fields:
More jobs will be available in STEM fields. Per recent research, there is a shortage of U.S. workers qualified to meet the job-market demand for STEM occupations. Of those qualified for these jobs, few are Hispanics.
STEM majors are aligned with multiple student support services, such as supplemental instruction, tutoring, and counseling, free of charge.
There is less competition in these fields. If/when competing against students with similar profiles and backgrounds, STEM majors are more likely to secure a job.
And here are ways the entire family can help the kids to get motivated to get involved in STEM fields:
Visit science museums and aquariums. When you are exposed from an early age to museums and aquariums, you develop an interest in and fascination toward science.
Expose your child to science books. Again, early exposure to what is unfamiliar to our children is a step forward into new territories, which makes them feel more comfortable around topics presented via science books.
Encourage a love of nature and animals. As simple as having a pet at home teaches children sensitivity towards nature and may make them passionate about topics in which they might develop long-term interest.