Equality in STEM Education, by Juan B. Gutierrez

I am a US citizen of Colombian origin. I immigrated the US as a technology worker, and later decided to pursue a doctoral degree. I have experienced the benefits of opportunity, and have witnessed the problems caused by a biased access to opportunities. I am committed to have the face of success match the face of the nation. We have a moral imperative: To ensure that all members of our society have equal access to opportunities irrespective of the color of their skin, their ethnic origin, and their personal beliefs; opportunity should be available to all, and the rewards of hard work should be distributed on the basis of merit and strength of character.

Access to and achievement in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is not evenly distributed among all members of the US society. The US National Science Foundation keeps reliable annual statistics in this subject (available here).

The issue of race and ethnicity comes sometimes as a question. Race is a social construct; the amount of melanin in the skin determines, at most, the risk of skin cancer. Ethnicity, on the other hand, is the cultural background that determines the starting point in life. Sadly, ethnicity and socioeconomic status coincide for many for historical reasons; I am committed to contribute to break this dynamics and eliminate biases in our society. I proudly have the genetic background of most of the world (i.e. I have all "races": 1/4 Native American, 3/4 European and others) according to 23andme. This makes me part of the majority of humankind, instead of part of a minority in the US.

 

I direct the STEM Initiative at the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute (LACSI), and I work in close collaboration with the Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education (CLASE). Please contact me if you are interested in improving equal access to STEM education.