One way to ensure that the U.S. remains competitive in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is by increasing the level of minorities who pursue postsecondary education in these fields, according to a new report by the National Academies.
The report, "Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America's Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads," calls for schools at the elementary, secondary and undergraduate level to encourage the participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM studies. In 2006, African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans comprised little more than 9 percent of American adults who held jobs in STEM related fields. The report states that this statistic must triple in order for these groups to be fairly represented.
Although drastic changes must be made throughout all tiers of the education system in order to achieve parity in STEM fields, Science Magazine reports that it may be worthwhile to focus efforts on the undergraduate level. Science notes that, according to the Academies' report, government funding would be well-spent on increasing retention rates of minority students who express interest in STEM studies, but eventually drop the program or switch majors.
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