This study from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and the Student Research Foundation helps faculty and administrators better understand the representation gaps in STEM attainment and careers and why these gaps continue to exist.
The study identifies low STEM confidence (belief by the students that they can succeed in STEM) as a key reason why gaps in STEM education and careers persist, especially for females of Hispanic ethnicity. Although similar affinities for STEM subjects and aspirations for STEM careers exist for underrepresented students when compared to historically overrepresented groups, data points out divergences during high school that impact STEM preparedness and retention.
A key finding from the study is that among students aspiring to STEM careers, Hispanics’ plans to attend community colleges increase dramatically between freshman and senior years of high school. This suggests the potential for community colleges to level the playing field for Hispanic STEM students, if faculty and staff tailor interventions to maximize Hispanic presence in the STEM pipeline of the future. The call to action concluding the study centers on evidence-based, culturally competent interventions such as: outreach to raise Hispanics’ interest in STEM, high-quality STEM curricula regardless of zip code to build equity in STEM preparedness, culturally-compatible interventions to boost STEM academic performance, and increasing STEM confidence.
Programs with the Girl Scouts and YWCA that have positively impacted STEM confidence (belief by the students that they can succeed in STEM) are provided as examples of harnessing the power of youth in the nation's growing Latino and Hispanic communities. The 61 references cited in the study also provide a wealth underlying resources and data.
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