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Factors Affecting African American Persistence In The Sciences

2207 words - 9 pages

Science encompasses fields that investigate the physical and natural world or the events dealing with matter, energy, and their interrelations with objectively measurable phenomena (Natural Science). Science often falls under the umbrella of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematic (STEM). Historically, these fields have been void of diversity and largely dominated by White males, leaving minority’s underrepresented (Hines 3). Diversity in these fields is vital to preserving their integrity because it prevents bias and promotes the contributions different backgrounds bring to academia (Hines 4). Not only that, but today’s global market requires a growing investment in the fields of science education to remain competitive with other countries (Palmer, Davis and Moore 105). President Baraka Obama has pushed to increase the number of minorities represented in STEM. In the article Obama Pushes STEM in State of the Union, freelance writer for U.S. News Jason Koebler quotes the President’s State of the Union speech where he urges Americans to, “Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs”. President Obama understands that it is essential for the nation to,
improve[ing] the quality of math and science teachers so more students have opportunities for high-quality STEM learning and are motivated to pursue STEM degrees and careers; improve[ing] undergraduate teaching practices so more well-prepared STEM students persist to a degree in these fields; and expand[ing] STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and minorities. (Science 1) Making the improvements suggested by the President could work to reduce the inequality found in college access and degree completion, and ensure that there are enough college-educated individuals available to participate in the global “knowledge bases” economy of the future (Palmer, Davis and Moore 107). Maton, Hrabowski, and Schmitt report that few African Americans have been able to persist and participate in the global economy through the sciences because of negative social pressure from peers and authority figures; underrepresentation in gifted and talented programs; discrimination; low college enrollment; few role models in science; and lack of academic confidence (631). In this paper, persistence refers to an individual’s ability to overcome obstacles and earn a degree in the sciences. Even in the face of such hindrance, some African Americans have been able to transcend these obstacles and enter the sciences because of mentors, participation in science programs, community support, and confidence in their academic ability (Hines 4; Maton, Hrabowski and Schmitt 629).
Current statistics suggest that U.S. rates for enrollment of African Americans in four-year colleges and universities are low, leaving the minority groups...

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