Topic: Workforce Diversity
by Jesse Vargas UCLA
Pay at the post-doctoral and early career level in the STEM fields is a direct barrier to increasing diversification. Students from poor backgrounds simply to not have the economic support systems to survive, pushing them out of the sciences and into careers with more, sometimes double, the pay, e.g. manager at Starbucks, Target, or Trader Joes. Couple the low pay with the student debt disproportionally assumed by minority students and you have an economic impossibility facing many of the brightest young minds, who of course will look at the choices they face and go elsewhere.
Optional Comments on the Problem
The lack of diversity in the sciences is huge and lasting. Having gone through several 30,000+ student campuses for my various degrees and being part of scarcely a handful of minority students on those campuses in the sciences, the reality was ever present and undeniable. If we are to make meaningful headway at tackling the issue we must commit real resources in the form of funds, not just talk or committees, to enable poorer students the ability to survive the path to a permanent career in the sciences.