The GE Fund today released a new study that documents obstacles and solutions for improving minority and female student performance in pursuing careers in science, engineering, and technology (SET). Upping the Numbers, co-authored by EDC and Campbell-Kibler Associates, is one of the first studies to gather data on what really works to increase under-represented students’ interest and success in these fields.
In response to the report, the GE Fund has pledged $1.3 million to the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), Inc. The money will go towards strengthening mathematics preparation for all students and implementing effective strategies for attracting more women and minorities into engineering careers.
According to the study, majority women and minority women and men are dramatically underrepresented in quantitative fields in the workforce. With percentages of these groups in the workforce growing, the report emphasizes that there is an urgent need to improve this shortfall in order to prevent severe labor shortages in vital areas of our economy.
The study presents data comparing achievement, courses taken, and interest of middle- and high-school students in the quantitative disciplines. Data indicate that while majority women often graduate from high school with the skills needed to pursue quantitative careers, few decide to continue to study in these fields. Conversely, relatively few African American, Hispanic and American Indian students graduate high school with the necessary skills.
The authors outline factors that can help to raise the interest and strengthen the preparation of students from under-represented groups pursuing SET courses and careers.
At the middle and high school levels:
- A strong core curriculum
- Hands-on learning
- Students with teachers who have some mathematics background
- Effective programming targeting pre-college girls or minority students
At the college level:
- A rigorous high school curriculum
- Small-group learning
- Programs for students as a group
- College and career orientation
- Research experience
Originally published on May 31, 2002