There’s been a lot of press highlighting the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in education and describing how the United States has fallen behind our international peers in these disciplines.
According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science study (TIMSS), 8th-grade students in the United States are testing just barely over the average of our international peers. Specific to mathematical concepts (my particular strength), eight graders most desperately struggled with geometry (21 countries had higher average scores), followed by data & chance and numbers (14 countries had higher average scores). Where we did best was in algebra (only 9 countries had higher average scores). The next TIMSS study will be published in November 2016.
For African-American students, the attainment of STEM skills are far harder to acquire. I learned recently that US Schools are more racially and economically segregated than they were 40-years ago. As a result, less than one-third of public high schools serving predominately black students offer calculus and only about 40 percent offer physics. But the bigger problem is that people of color have to overcome a societal narrative of low expectations when it comes to their educational attainment, especially when it comes to math.
While white people in 2011 held 71% of STEM jobs and Asians held 15%, my black counterparts only held 6%! Research has shown that greater diversity in the workforce leads to better financial performance overall.
I have decided it’s important for me to play my part in helping America add 1 million more STEM professionals by 2022 to stay competitive. The motto I propose to my peers is this: "Change your mindset to change your life."