Kamala Harris Pushes Bill to Direct More POC and Underrepresented to STEM Jobs
The National Association of Manufacturing and Deloitte report that the U.S. will have to fill 3.5 million STEM jobs by 2025, with more than two million of them likely going unfilled because of the lack of highly skilled candidates. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced legislation last week to create a pipeline for these jobs. The 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act would provide funding for school districts across the country to support STEM education for girls, students of color, LGBTQ students, and students with disabilities. “When we have more women, people of color, LGBTQ folks, and people with disabilities in STEM jobs, we get better results,” said Harris. “Preparing our nation’s students for the jobs of the 21st century starts in the classroom, and we must ensure that the benefits of that education are shared equally with those who are currently underrepresented in STEM professions.” A key part of Harris’ bill is a $40 million grant program that would give awards to school districts to boost participation in STEM education. It would also provide tutoring and mentoring programs, as well as afterschool and summer activities, designed to encourage interest and skill-building in STEM subjects. The measure would provide subsidies to minimize the costs of STEM-related educational materials, equipment, field trips, internships, and work experiences. For parents, the bill would educate them about the opportunities and advantages of STEM careers. It would also provide professional development services to teachers, principals, and other personnel aimed at reduced racial and gender bias. Black and Hispanic workers continue to be underrepresented in the STEM workforce. Blacks make up 11% of the U.S. workforce overall but represent 9% of STEM workers, while Hispanics comprise 16% of the U.S. workforce but only 7% of all STEM workers. And among employed adults with a Bachelor’s degree or higher, Blacks are just 7% and Hispanics are 6% of the STEM workforce, according to the Pew Research Center. Regular Beat readers will recall that Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH) introduced this bill in the House. More here.