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What Will It Take to Increase Hispanics in Stem? Money, Of Course


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The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently asked Hispanic-serving institutions at the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities' Capitol Forum for advice on how to increase the number of Latinos in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. College administrators responded by saying that paying Hispanic students to do research was the only way to get and keep them interested in STEM fields. "Our students are working-class students," says Moshen Beheshti, chair of the computer science department at California State University, Dominguez Hills. "They cannot just come to school to do the research. They need to get paid."

Hispanics make up 14 percent of the U.S. population but received only 7.5 percent of bachelor's degrees in engineering in 2005, according to the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. Hispanics also only earned 7.5 percent of bachelor's degrees in biological sciences, 6.8 percent in computer sciences, 6.5 percent in physics, and 5.8 percent in mathematics in 2005.

In 2007, Congress approved legislation creating a NSF program aimed at improving the number of STEM degrees at Hispanic-serving institutions. The Education Trust's Margarita Benitez urged the NSF to examine Latino demographics by state, and to use that data to set a target percentage of Latino students who should be in STEM careers. University of Texas, El Paso's Robert Osegueda says the NSF program should reach out to K-12 students to promote STEM careers before they reach college.

From Diverse Online
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