Imaginative Programs + Caring Mentors = Sparking STEM Interest in Underserved Youth

Imaginative Programs + Caring Mentors = Sparking STEM Interest in Underserved Youth

By Edwin Link, Senior Director, Academic Success, Arts, and Innovation for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America

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In its fiscal year 2013, Symantec contributed more than $24 million in cash and software to nonprofits working within its four philanthropic focus areas: science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education; online safety; diversity; and environmental responsibility. Over the next few weeks, we will hear from several of our partners on various projects and programs that Symantec is helping to support. Last week, we heard from Acterra, an environmental nonprofit serving Silicon Valley, and today we hear from Edwin Link, Sr. Director of Academic Success, Arts, and Innovation at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 9:00am

Ask a kindergarten class if they like science and all kids will raise their hands. Then, ask a sixth-grade class if they like science. The number of hands raised will decrease greatly—especially the girls’. Interestingly enough, ask the same sixth-grade class if they’d like to save the environment and the majority of girls will now raise their hands.

Why is the diminishing interest in science occurring in young women, yet the underlying interest in science-related activities remains? I hope that my incredibly curious five-year-old daughter never loses interest in science as she gets older. Unfortunately, our society is one in which minorities—particularly women—are underrepresented in STEM fields. How can we help reverse this trend and encourage the growth of a qualified, diverse workforce in STEM-related fields?

Societal Disconnect: STEM Job Growth and the Underprepared Workforce

Nearly all 30 of the fastest-growing occupations will require some education and experience in STEM, and by 2018, 1.2 million U.S. jobs will be available in STEM-related fields, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, when polled, only 14.5 percent of female students expressed an interest in STEM compared to 39.6 percent of male students. And since the graduating class of 2000, African-Americans interested in STEM majors/careers have dropped 30 percent (myCollegeOptions and STEMconnector). The stark reality is that Americans, particularly underrepresented minorities, will be largely unprepared to secure these positions, putting our nation at-risk of losing competitive ground in the global economy.

Read the full post on the Symantec CR in Action blog here.

CATEGORY: Education