STEM in Higher Education

Aug 21, 2021 by

While the predominant focus in education in recent years has been on exposing women to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education, there continues to be structural racism and marginalization of underrepresented groups as well. According to McGee (2020), this systemic racism in STEM is reinforced by discriminatory beliefs, policies, values, and distribution of resources. The author argues that, even at the top of the education hierarchy, Black STEM doctorate students and Ph.D. degree holders consistently endure the racist residue of higher education institutions and STEM employers (McGee, 2020).

In fact, 80% of United States science and engineering professionals are white or Asian. Barber, Hayes, Johnson, and Márquez-Magaña (2020) assert that the Black Lives Matter protests and a pandemic that disproportionately killed Black and Latinx people highlights the need to end systemic racism, including in STEM and STEM education. They argue that it is time to make the commitment to be an agent of change.

O’Hara (2020) uses Critical Race Theory (CRT) to examine the problems of student attrition, lack of persistence, and lack of a sense of belonging among marginalized populations undergoing science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) education within U.S. institutions of higher education. The author specifically explores how race and racism in post-secondary STEM education exacerbate the problem.


How can the disparities prevalent in STEM education be remedied? What initiatives and changes can be implemented to make STEM careers more racially inclusive?


STEM, race, science, technology, engineering, math


Barber, P.H., Hayes, T.B., Johnson, T.L., Márquez-Magaña, L. (2020). Systemic racism in higher education. Science, 18, 1440-1441. Retrieved from:

McGee, E. O. (2020). Interrogating Structural Racism in STEM Higher Education. Educational Researcher, 49(9), 633–644. DOI: 10.3102/0013189X20972718

O’Hara, R.M. (2020). STEM(ing) the Tide: A Critical Race Theory Analysis in STEM Education, Journal of Constructivist Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/10720537.2020.1842825

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