From Student to Scientist: The Leaky STEM Pipeline
A working pipeline carries material from point A to point B. A leaky pipeline translates to a costly, permanent loss of the same material. When we talk about moving people instead of material, the prospect of permanent loss is more deeply impactful. More tragic. The bad news is we don’t have to imagine it. It is happening. The National Academies’ “Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited,” report cites that “While the representation of women among those receiving bachelor’s degrees in all fields from United States universities exceeds 57 percent, less than 20 percent of the degrees in engineering are awarded to women ― with the most recent trend slightly worsening” and “Similarly, black and Hispanic representation among those receiving bachelor’s degrees in engineering is less than one-half their proportionate share of the overall population.” Every day, creative and talented individuals are leaking from the pipeline from K-12 to career inception and beyond, translating to a real and permanent loss of talent capital.
And that’s not all. In the report, committee members stress the need for “…an adequate supply of scientists and engineers who can perform creative, imaginative, leading-edge work ― that is, who can innovate.” Allowing these leaks in the pipeline to go unchecked means we as a nation cannot supply the innovative scientists we need to remain competitive in the global market. We risk losing our identity and our way forward, not tomorrow, but today.
The good news? We can act now, act more, and act differently to solve these issues and recover our resources. If we can train ourselves to apply and communicate across our differences, there is no limit to what we can achieve on behalf of students and STEM. We are poised to fix the leaky STEM pipeline at the source, because we are different. How do we know this? Let’s start right here at home. Let’s talk about the example Americans set. Let’s talk about what’s already going on right here as a model for national achievement. Let’s talk about putting it all within reach, with Sustainable Horizons Institute.