There are far too few black students in science, math and technology programs, according to a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Cardinal Warde spoke Tuesday to a group of students at Fort Valley State University, a historically black college in middle Georgia. Warde, an MIT engineering professor, said black students lag behind others in science, technology, engineering and math programs also known as STEM education.
“It’s a good news, bad news story,” explained Warde. “The bad news is that there are not enough of us in the STEM disciplines and while we’ve had some very prestigious innovators in STEM going all the way back to the turn of the century, we continue to lag behind minority groups in the number and the percentage of our people who are going into the STEM disciplines.”
Warde explained, however, that schools like FVSU have been working diligently to steer interested students toward STEM careers.
“The good news is that a lot of Universities and a lot of high schools […] are indeed trying to make changes to teach STEM better, to teach it earlier in school and to encourage entrepreneurship based on STEM,” Warde said.
The problem is not just in the black community, Warde explained, but in society as a whole. He said many students see STEM programs as being more difficult than English or social studies, which steers them away from pursuing a math or science path.
Warde said parents, teachers and communities must also work to make students feel like STEM subjects are “cool,” especially in a world where technology has become such a big part of our lives. STEM careers and innovations can also be very lucrative, said Warde.
“These are the disciplines that create, you know, the Microsofts and the Facebooks and the Apples of the world that generate lots of wealth and create lots of jobs.”