By: Janette Flores
There is a lack of minority women represented within the Technology field. The National Science Foundation reported that only 2% of Latinas held science and engineering positions in 2015. According to a report from the National Center for Women and Information Technology, in 2017, Latinas made up only 1% of the computing workforce. The same report found that, women hold 24% of STEM jobs in the U.S. These statistics reflect the need for change and the need for more minority women representation in the Technology field.
This proposal is to create an outreach program partnering with the San Bernardino Unified School District, that would target underrepresented minority students in grades 7and 8. The program would expose those students to careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). This program would create a foundation to help pave the way for them to pursue careers within STEM the fields.
As a Latina myself, who works in the IT sector, I have a first-hand experience with the lack of diversity in this field, especially when it comes to Latina women. Organizations could benefit greatly in hiring underrepresented minorities in the workforce. Each person brings a different perspective, life experience and cultural experience to the workforce, and this is beneficial to our community. Diversity leads to greater productivity and allows for better problem solving. Speaking from personal experience, when I assist a Spanish speaker with a technical issue, I have found that, that person will contact me for any other issue, whether it be a technical or not. This is because people tend to feel comfortable speaking to someone that they can relate to, someone that shares a similar cultural background and someone that will understand their request.
There is an opportunity for growth, improvement, and transformation not only for our underrepresented minorities but also for our organization(s). This is important because by working together we can learn from each other, we can be innovative and transformative in the workplace.
Byars-Winston (2011), Professor of Internal Medicine at the Madison University received a grant to investigate how mentors defined diversity and developed ways to measure the impact of mentored research experiences on career outcomes. In her research she highlighted five reasons to target underrepresented minorities and how it would benefit the workforce.
Five beneficial reasons to mentor underrepresented minorities.
- Diversity Drives Innovation.
“They generate more creative solutions and tend to arrive at solutions faster,” Byars-Winston says. “We need all hands-on deck to maintain the national global standing in science and technology.” I agree. People from diverse backgrounds who collaborate on team projects can produce innovative ideas because of their different cultural perspectives.
- Racial/ethnic minorities and women are two of the largest segments of the workforce. “They are growing in tremendous numbers and they’re a logical target to develop in terms of domestic STEM talent,” she says. I agree with Byars-Winston’s assertion. Minority Women are two of the largest segments in the workforce. Therefore, I am focusing on Latinas with this project.
- The job growth for STEM occupations is extremely high. This means job security, working with cutting edge technology and most importantly the job skills are transferable.
- There are great job opportunities in STEM fields across educational levels. We tend to think of STEM jobs being exclusively for those holding bachelor’s degrees or higher, she says. But 27% require more than a high school degree, but less than a bachelor’s degree. Technology is part of our country’s culture so the program that I would like to create can help girls that possibly do not want to pursue a college degree to see that the possibilities are endless.
- STEM jobs yield “incredibly” high salaries.
Byars-Winston says STEM workers earn about 26% more than non-STEM workers and calls these fields the “best equal opportunity employer.” Of course, she offers one more, rather significant, reason: “If we don’t change these trends, then we’re losing a lot of human capital that can contribute to STEM innovation.”Byars-Winston makes a profound observation by stating that jobs in STEM allow for great salaries but she also reminds us that things need to change to yield results. and We do lose a lot of human capital that could be contributing to STEM by not including underrepresented minorities.
Project Plan- Finding an Ally
While reflecting on the statistics and I think of how I can personally help influence change, I decided to start networking to find the right partners that would assist in helping me develop and roll-out this project.
I reached out to the Office of Community Engagement (OCE) at my campus, CSUSB. The OCE advocates and supports our on-campus community to serve through partnerships with local nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, and community-benefit organizations throughout San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. The OCE director and I have been in contact, and we are currently in the early stages of developing the project program.
Stage 1 I will be collaborating with OCE to implement a plan that will allow me to connect with my target audience (8th – 9th grade)
Stage 2 Presentation opportunity at the target school’s “Career Day”. This would afford me a chance to talk to young ladies who share a similar racial background as mine, in hopes that I may spark an interest in them and continue cultivating a mentor/mentee relationship.
Stage 3 Program Orientation
Program Title: Latinas in STEM
1.Provide direction towards a career path in IT
2.Network- Help youth make connections with others in the IT field
3.Resources- Find the available resources in IT
Student success and institutional effectiveness
This project will benefit the CSUSB campus, as I can help bring awareness of career opportunities and the university resources that are available to underrepresented minority students which will increase the university effectiveness in the recruitment, retention, and graduation of minority students in STEM disciplines. CSUSB is a Hispanic Serving institution CSUSB which is focused in increasing awareness of the resources that are available to Latinos.
Usefulness and Cost- Effectiveness
This project is in an early stage of development and therefore I do not foresee incurring too many costs at this time. The initial cost of implementation is basically the time that I will be volunteering. I am actively collaborating with the Office of Community Engagement who will be assisting me in the outreach. In additional to this valuable resource, I plan to reach out to the University’s outreach programs which are part of the CSUSB budget and is geared towards community outreach and engagement.
My plan is to volunteer my time and find collaborators/sponsors that share this vision and will help develop this plan into action. I will also plan to reach out to my Vice President & Chief Information Officer for Information Technology Services to see about providing Latinas with hands on experience in Information Technology.
Additional resources that I will be reaching out to:
• Upward Bound- Upward Bound is a TRIO Program designed to help provide high school students with educational and personal support services that will increase high school graduation and college enrollment and persistent rates.
• SAIL Program- The Student Assistance in Learning (SAIL) program is a TRiO Student Support Services grant, which has served nearly 5,000 students at Cal State San Bernardino since 1981. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the federal TRiO programs began with the passage of the Educational Opportunity Act of 1964. They include outreach programs designed to assist low-income, first-generation and students with disabilities as they proceed through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs. The specific goal of Student Support Services programs like SAIL is to increase the college retention and graduation rates of targeted students at the undergraduate level through academic support and advising services.
• S-STEM Program- California State University, San Bernardino’s S-STEM Scholarship Program is funded by the National Science Foundation for five years to support transfer students majoring in STEM disciplines. These high-potential undergraduate transfer scholars will receive financial, curricular, and co-curricular support for STEM majors at CSUSB.
• HETS- Hispanic Educational Technology Services
All the above- mentioned groups can be of tremendous assistance and guidance to my Latinas. It is very important to make these resources readily available to them early on so that they can explore the various opportunities.
I plan to conduct a pre and post assessment on the attitudes of students towards pursuing careers in STEM. Once the data is collected this will help with evaluating the effectiveness of the program. The assessment will also help with identifying the gaps and what opportunities can be added to the program to enhance it and make it successful.
Parent Involvement is important in the Latino culture therefore I plan to reach out to the parents early in the process. Latino parents may not be aware of the various career opportunities in the STEM fields and involving them will help them see this. Speaking from personal experience, as a first-time generation college graduate, I involved my parents in everything related to my college experience, but I do wish that they would have been exposed to the college resources beforehand. This would have made a huge difference in my college experience.
Latinas in IT will allow me the opportunity to help bridge the gap between Latinas and careers in the STEM field. It will help foster and cultivate mentor/mentee relationships and connect them to all the available resources. It is important to remember what Byars-Winston’s said: “things need to change to yield results. We do lose a lot of human capital that could be contributing to STEM by not including underrepresented minorities”. Every person and every culture have something valuable to bring to the table and by bridging the gap, we can be innovative and transformative.