Science, technology, engineering and math fields, collectively known as STEM fields in education jargon, are commonly thought to be the hottest paths to economic well being. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that these fields will grow faster than any other sector in the years to come. But, some of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population — non-White racial minorities — typically participate in these fields at rates lower than their percentage in the general population. This could have the effect of widening already troubling income disparities along racial lines. To combat this, many educators have tried to redesign science education to appeal more to students from a minority background. Such attempts, however, may reveal more about educators’ assumptions and innate prejudices than they do about how different racial and economic groups learn. Katie Kirchglaser is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Curriculum and Instruction.
Photo of science students by Argonne National Laboratory, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons