March 16, 2006

Science, Math, Engineering Equity

by Mary Flanagan · , 4:31 pm

At the National Science Foundation Joint Annual Meeting (NSF JAM 2006) , 900 scholars at this moment are meeting to discuss national and research efforts in diversifying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This morning, Sara Martinez Tucker”, head of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, gave an inspiring talk looking at the growth of private funding for disadvantaged students. Martinez Tucker noted that 29% of Americans are receiving a college education, while 63% of new jobs require at least some college education. Numbers in particular science and engineering programs at the University level (such as computer science) are continuing to drop overall, and a drop in terms of the percentages of diverse students is also reported. The scholars presenting today point to the challenges of specific scenarios in equity; indeed, across the board the scholars, scientists, and even Congress people warn that the US is facing in leadership, innovation, and expertise in the coming years as US test scores in these areas also fall. Part of the challenge, noted Martinez Tucker, is context: familial/counseling, financial limitations, and places where diverse students can study in a comfortable environment are all key factors.

In addition to equity issues affecting many of us in technology in all areas of creativity, scholarship, and research, the research is particularly relevant for gamers, bloggers, professors, and artists using or teaching new technologies. Researchers in traditional fields are beginning to distribute research in blog format at sites such as See Jane Compute. Queens College (City University of New York) has started the Equity Studies Research Center, and hosts projects such as Sisters in Science. Hunter College (City University of New York) also has the Tiltfactor lab, a multidisciplinary research group in social issues and gaming.