Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The Meaning of House Resolution 6078: 21st century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities
To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to provide grants to local educational agencies to encourage girls and underrepresented minorities to pursue studies and careers in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.
The bill was sponsored by Representative Lynn Woolsey a democrat from California’s 6th District. The bill is currently in committee. The full text for the bill can be downloaded here. In the text of the bill it is stated that the goal of the bill is “to prepare girls and underrepresented minorities for the 21st century”.
There is no doubt that America needs more women and minorities represented in STEM. When the government passes legislation you can be sure that whatever the bill is intended to correct has reached a crisis state.
In other words, this lack of women and minorities in the STEM fields has now been identified as a problem for not only women and minorities but it is a problem for the country. Although this legislation has not been passed, it is an indication that there is a serious issue that needs to be solved and further, the usual social institutions schools, churches, philanthropic organizations have proved incapable or unwilling to remedy the situation.
The issue of African Americans and other minorities as well as women being under represented in STEM has been an issue for quite some time. And while I applaud the effort of Representative Woolsey and her effort to ensure that funds are allocated to programs to improve the dearth of minorities and women in the science, technology and engineering fields it must be recognized that money is only a part of the answer.
Women are other minorities are underrepresented in STEM because there is a historical legacy that prohibited them from participating in technology. Further, women have always been conditioned that math is not for girls.
It reminds me of when Malcolm X tells the story in his autobiography of how his teacher advised him that law was not a good career choice for an African American. This is a different time, but the story remains the same.
Any program that is serious about improving the representation of minorities and women in the STEM fields needs to start there. These messages are still being transmitted to our children. And we need to stop it. We need to remove the negative conditioning that is prevalent in the schools, churches, homes, and other institutions.
And we must teach our children to protect their minds from such conditioning. Additionally, these programs should make as their chief aim to reprogram the minds of our children with positive messages of encouragement and provide for them with examples of women and minorities who have excelled in science in the past, present and future.