Underrepresented Populations

    The 2007 report Rising Above the Gathering Storms: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future makes a recommendation to increase the number of students passing the math and science AP and IB courses with the hope that successful students will pursue degrees in science, math and engineering.  The opportunities and incentives proposed for middle and high school students to pursue advanced work in science and math include fee rebates, scholarships, specialty school education and inquiry-based learning experiences.  Plans to actively recruit typically underrepresented populations for careers in math and science are missing from these recommendations.  As a nation, we can double the number of potential math and science candidates by encouraging young women to consider the careers in math and science. 

            Secondary students typically are not aware of what types of careers are available to those who pursue advanced degrees in math or science unless they know someone already working in that field.  In the field of engineering, for example, the majority of students taking engineering courses at colleges and universities are male.  Little or no effort is made at the middle or high school level to encourage female students to consider becoming engineers.  Increasing the talent pool should also include educating counselors and teachers to remain gender neutral when helping students prepare for their futures.  Efforts should also include ensuring that female role models are recruited to provide insight into the opportunities that await those who pursue careers in science and math.