Reasons for Hispanics to pursue a STEM Degree
- STEM degrees pay more than non-STEM degrees
- Help to close the income inequality gap
- Career flexibility
- Job stability
- Better benefits
- Strong industry growth
Hispanics suffer from Income Inequality
Unfortunately, in today’s ultra-competitive environment, obtaining a bachelor’s degree will only allow Hispanics to reach lower class income, which is around US$45,000. As shown in the graph below, a graduate degree is becoming increasingly necessary for Hispanics to break out of the lower class.
Despite having the same level of education, Whites and Asians consistently earn more than Hispanics while Blacks regularly earn less.
It is important to note that when Asians obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher their income significantly outpaces that of Whites. This is partly because a larger number of Asians have bachelor’s degrees or higher compared to other groups. For example, in the national laboratory where I am carrying out my doctoral research, most scientists (i.e., doctoral holders) are of Asian descent.
Few Hispanics participate in civic (i.e. voting) and political engagement due to low educational attainment and low English proficiency, so income inequality, along with other issues, continues to go unresolved.
Pursuing a STEM Degree can help to close the Income Inequality Gap
As shown in the graph below, pursuing a STEM degree provides a way for Hispanics to earn significantly more than non-STEM occupations.
Historically, the United States has struggled to fill STEM positions due to a lack of manpower. Whites and Asians make up most STEM positions while Hispanics, along with other minorities, are underrepresented. My experience in industry validates this statement.
Increasing degree-holders among Hispanics will be the first step in helping to bridge the income inequality gap. We also need to focus on influencing government policies by becoming strong advocates and highlighting the challenges (i.e., lack of jobs, underfunded schools, etc.) that our communities face to our political leaders. The best way to do this is by contacting your local representative and expressing your concerns.
STEM occupations include those in healthcare, management, computer, math, architecture, engineering, life, physical, and social sciences, and education.
Non-STEM occupations include those in business, finance, legal, community and social services, protective services, food preparation, and serving, cleaning and maintenance, personal care and service, office and administrative, farming, fishing, forestry, construction, installation, maintenance, and repair, production, and transportation.
A STEM Degree provides Career Flexibility
- Math and Science
- Critical Thinking
A STEM Degree provides Job Stability
Our society is becoming more technologically driven, which results in more STEM jobs being created. However, there are few students that can fill these positions. As a result, there is limited competition for jobs, resulting in STEM professionals being employed almost immediately compared to non-STEM professionals.
As a Hispanic, some of us have an added skill that contributes to our job stability; being bilingual. Being bilingual and having a STEM degree helped me get my first full-time job more quickly than my non-Hispanic classmates.
A STEM Degree leads to better Job Benefits
STEM Careers have Strong Industry Growth
STEM occupations are forecast to grow 76% higher than non-STEM job growth nationwide. The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the need for STEM professionals because STEM topics like public health, scientific literacy, and medical research were thrusted into the spotlight. For this reason, STEM jobs will continue to grow at accelerated rates.
The next blog post will discuss why Hispanics are the best group to fill much-needed STEM positions.