In a landmark report, LULAC has moved beyond just calling for more Hispanic students to earn college degrees and is now arguing that these students should steer toward STEM careers.
Here’s a taste:
Despite rapid population growth, in 2011, Latinos held only 7% of STEM jobs. In fact, while the number of STEM job opportunities is steadily increasing, Latinos are not reaping the benefits. Even among those Latinos with STEM degrees, Latino employment in STEM fields is low. Data also show that although 60% of Latinos are employed in the workforce, only 19% of Latino STEM graduates are employed in STEM fields. For Latinos who are employed in STEM fields, other disparities exist. For example, the median salary for a Latino employed in a STEM position is $77,300 compared to $88,400 for their white counterparts.
Addressing the underrepresentation of Latinos in STEM education and the workforce is key, given that the Hispanic population is projected to become 30% of the U.S. population in the next 25 years and will be the majority in several states. Due to this population surge, a greater proportion of Latinos will have the opportunity to fill vacancies in STEM professions and will require exten- sive STEM knowledge and STEM degrees.
In addition, while the reason for the underrepresentation of Latinos in the STEM workforce is usually attributed to lack of student preparation, it is important to note that underrepresentation can also be attributed to a lack of STEM network and career opportunities in both formal and informal spaces (both inside and outside of school). In some cases Latinos have a more challeng- ing time meeting STEM mentors and acquiring social capital that will ease them into a job. As such, a focused commitment to increase Latino representation in STEM careers will provide a greater number of role models and mentors for the Latino community.