Jun 14, 2022 - Science

Survey: More representation could help Latinos embrace STEM careers

Share of Hispanic adults who say Hispanic people have reached the highest levels of success as&nbsp;<span style="border-bottom: 2px solid #000;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

Hispanics say the key to improving diversity in science hinges on seeing more Hispanic scientists, science students and science teachers, according to a Pew Research Center report published Tuesday.

State of play: The survey of 3,700 Hispanic adults found about 30% of Latinos see scientists as unwelcoming to Latinos, which could hinder efforts to diversify the field.

The big picture: Latinos make up 17% of the U.S. workforce but only 8% of people working in science, technology, engineering or math, Pew found earlier.

  • The percentage of Latino college students earning a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field is up from 8% in 2010 to 12% in 2018, according to the latest available data.

By the numbers: Only 26% of Latinos feel scientists as a professional group are very welcoming of Hispanics. And only 35% of them say Hispanic people have reached the highest levels of success in science, compared to 59% for medical doctors.

  • 81% of respondents said young Hispanic people would be more likely to pursue STEM degrees if they saw more examples of high-achievers in the field who are Hispanic.

What they're saying: Erika Tatiana Camacho, a professor of applied mathematics at Arizona State University, says educating parents about STEM fields and the jobs they offer could help drive more Latino students to the field.

  • Camacho is a program director at the National Science Foundation, which is supporting a slate of new programs at Hispanic-serving institutions (colleges that serve an at least 25% Hispanic full-time student population) that add a cultural perspective to how they teach STEM.
  • Many times students are asked "to leave [their] identity at the door of the classroom ... as opposed to bring in who they are to the center point," she says.

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