By Keerthana Vinod
Diversity is something that we see everywhere. Whether it’s from social media to even our next-door neighbors, different races and ethnicities are very intermingled in today’s society. However, the diversity we see in our everyday lives isn’t reflected in many STEM fields.
STEM is the essential foundation for scientific growth and learning, yet we are hindered by the lack of diversity in these fields. With diverse people come diverse ways of thinking and problem-solving, leading to developments in scientific progress. Having people from different cultures and backgrounds allows for new methods and perspectives to be utilized when they wouldn’t have otherwise. Breaking these old habits and rules allows creativity and innovation to grow, which is what STEM is all about.
Diverse thinking in STEM fields also brings along much-needed skills that can be implemented in scientific development. In recent decades, the need for researchers in technological fields has skyrocketed. According to a statistic by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, they state that between 2021 to 2031, the demand for information research and computer scientists will increase by 21%. In order to meet this growing need and be able to continue our growth in STEM fields, we must include everyone.
Having diversity can also ensure that technologies and systems of the future are done on an ethical basis. Systems made by non-diverse STEM teams can lead to the perpetuation of harmful racial biases. An example of these racially-biased systems would be an AI system that considers a person's race when determining a credit score. In order for scientific discoveries to be truly useful, we need to make sure that these developments can apply to everyone.
So, how do we start including more ethnically diverse people in STEM? The best way to start is through education. Several organizations are already taking the step to bring STEM into classrooms. The Packard Foundation is one of these organizations. Through their many programs - such as their targeted recruitment & retention programs as well as creative partnerships - they are able to reach out to many schools and educate countless young minds about the opportunities available in STEM.
On a personal level, we can also take small steps to bring more minds into the fields of STEM. We can do this by simply talking to others. Simply initiating a conversation about different STEM-related jobs or just STEM in general with friends or family can help spark interest in these fields. Who knows, maybe you’ll inspire the next Marie Curie to take action.
Creativity and intelligence take forms in all shapes and sizes. Whether that be a behavioral scientist from India or a computer information specialist from Alaska, every person contributes to the growth of STEM. Through education and outreach, we can help increase diversity in different STEM-related fields. The minds of the future are not all built the same, so it’s important that we include everybody.
Lutkevich, Ben. “6 Reasons Why Diversity in STEM Is Important.” WhatIs.com, TechTarget,
24 Oct. 2022, https://www.techtarget.com/whatis/feature/Reasons-why-diversity-
Wang, Xiao-Wei. “Why Diversity in STEM Matters.” The David and Lucile Packard
Foundation, Natalie Lake, 23 Nov. 2021, https://www.packard.org/insights/