STEM Specialty Programs: A Pathway for Under-Represented Students into STEM FieldsReport as inadecuate

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NCSSSMST Journal, v16 n1 p27-29 Fall 2010

Addressing the under-representation of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields has been an initiative of the U.S. Congress for the past 30 years, but the challenge still remains unresolved. The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Congressional Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE) have been assigned to work together in an attempt to broaden the diversity of the U.S. STEM workforce across the past three decades. As diversity continues to increase among the U.S. population and since many STEM professionals are nearing retirement, this initiative has never been more important for the economic success of the country. With the U.S. not being the leading country in science and mathematics according to measures such as the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), one important strategy is to direct the attention of the NSF and CEOSE to data and trends related to under-represented students participating in advanced high school STEM programs. The authors suggest exploring programs that allow under-represented students to overcome issues linked to educational underachievement, including socioeconomic status, cultural trends, and awareness of STEM opportunities and career fields. The authors share their experiences with STEM magnet schools, a university-supported high school student research internship program, and extracurricular competitions that have launched under-represented students successfully into STEM fields.

Descriptors: Magnet Schools, Internship Programs, Engineering, African American Students, STEM Education, Disproportionate Representation, Science Education, Technology, Mathematics Education, High School Students, Technology Education

National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology. 3020 Wards Ferry Road, Lynchburg, VA 24502. Tel: 434-582-1104; Fax: 434-239-4140; e-mail: office[at]; Web site:

Author: Alvarez, Charles Alex; Edwards, Douglas; Harris, Bonnie


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