STEM Beats - September 2014

CTEq Marks Hispanic Heritage Month

September 29, 2014

This month, we're joining in on the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month!  In case you didn't know, STEM history is rich with Hispanic inventors, scientists, mathematicians, and more. But if we take a look at how Hispanic students fare in STEM, there's good news and bad news.

The bad news: a significant percentage of Hispanic students attend high schools that don't offer Calculus and Physics (29 percent and 16 percent, respectively in 2010.)  Lack of access to these important STEM foundation-building courses stifles Hispanic student success in K-12 and beyond, but also squanders their potential as STEM talent in the workforce (see our Engineering Emergency brief for more.) 

Now the good news: dynamic STEM programs like Build IT, Engineering is Elementary, and CompuGirls are supporting Hispanic students as they strive toward realizing their STEM dreams.  These STEMworks programs are helping to give Hispanic students greater access to quality STEM opportunities and to create a pipeline for the community from K-12 to higher education, both in non-STEM and STEM fields.

In order for the U.S. to remain globally competitive and keep up with the demand for diverse STEM talent, we need all hands on deck.  Broadening the STEM landscape for Hispanic students, and all students of color, is a critical step toward achieving these goals.

Tags: STEMworks, minorities

Top 5 U.S. Cities for Women in Computer Science

September 25, 2014

There's no denying it: women are underrepresented in STEM fields, most notably in computing, where just over one in four workers is female.  There are several factors that contribute to this talent shortage (see our Half Empty brief for the full breakdown), but they all amount to turning women and girls off to pursuing exciting, lucrative careers in a sector that's grown tremendously in recent years, even with the recession.

We've seen many headlines lately about big tech firms in places like Silicon Valley dedicating themselves to diversifying their workforces and bucking the stereotype of who a computing professional is and isn't.  Unfortunately, the tide has yet to turn for women: there's almost an inverse relationship between the concentration of computing jobs in a metro area and the number of women filling them, which is why you won't find any of your typical tech boom cities on our list of the top cities for women in technology. In fact, the San Jose metro area stands out for two very different reasons: Of the 100 largest metro areas, it has by far the highest concentration of computing jobs, and the lowest share of women in those jobs—just 23 percent. 

Based on CTEq's analysis of metro areas across the U.S., here are the top five cities for women in computing:

5. Charleston, SC

While South Carolina makes two appearances on our list, Charleston kicks us off with women accounting for 34 percent of the computing workforce.

4. McAllen, TX

The McAllen - Edinburg - Mission area in Texas also employs women as over one-third (34 percent) of its computer science workforce.

3. Jackson, MS

Jackson is quietly booming as a tech enterprise incubator and 35% of its computing workforce is female.

2. Columbia, SC

Columbia is home to a diverse technology industry, with many sectors represented and women comprising 35 percent of the workforce.

1. Sacramento, CA

Sacramento tops our list, with a computing workforce that is 36 percent female. Of the top five metros on our list, Sacramento has the biggest computing sector, with companies like Intel and Hewlett Packard among its largest tech employers.

While there's a lot of work to be done everywhere, these cities are doing better than most in cultivating diverse tech sectors and attracting women to join their computing ranks, and we hope that many more will follow suit!

Data source: Change the Equation analysis of data from EMSI, an economic and employment data firm.

Tags: women & girls, computer science, STEM & the states, Top 5

This Day in STEM: The Chemistry of Fall Leaves

September 23, 2014

It's here!  The first day of autumn has arrived, bringing an end to the heat of summer and big changes to the climate and environment around us.  

Have you ever wondered what's happening inside leaves as they start changing colors?  Check out this awesome infographic from Compound Interest that shows how chemicals work at the molecular level to bring fall colors to the trees:

Click here to view the larger PDF version

As you can see, there's a lot of activity happening inside leaves as the temperature and sunlight change, including the production of carotenoids, flavonoids, and anthocyanins that cause the beautiful oranges, yellows, and reds of fall leaves!  

What's your favorite part about transitioning from summer to fall?  For us, it's this Google Doodle:

Tags: This Day in STEM, science, infographic

The Art of STEM

September 19, 2014

CTEq member Booz Allen Hamilton recently hosted fellow CTEq members for a tour of the Degas/Cassatt exhibit at The National Gallery of Art, to explore the intersection of art and science. 

Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt were impressionists who met in Paris in the 1870s.  They became captivated by each another’s art and frequently provided counsel and assistance in creating some of the most influential pieces of this period in art history.

But what does this have to do with STEM? 

Just before this exhibit came to the National Gallery, newly discovered letters written by Mary Cassatt reveal that her contemporary Degas may have done more than just advise her on what’s arguably her most famous painting, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair.

During the cleaning and restoration process, analysis of the painting using infrared technology uncovered clues that the original painting’s composition was altered, likely by Degas as discussed in Cassatt’s letters. Further analysis revealed that similar techniques were used in Degas’ work during the same time, but none in any of Cassatt’s.  It’s because of this advanced infrared technology and improved restoration techniques that this exciting discovery was possible —a perfect connection between science and art.

Booz Allen Hamilton sponsored this excursion to the Degas/Cassatt exhibit because the relationship between artists and the exciting revelations about one of the exhibits central pieces align with the company’s values: a culture of collaboration, value of diversity, commitment to innovation, and belief in the power of the intersection of art and science. And that’s an intersection we love to see!

Tags: technology

Recap: Workforce STEMtistics

September 17, 2014

In case you don't follow us on Twitter (you really should!), CTEq just wrapped up an exciting STEMtistics campaign focused on the past, present, and future of the STEM workforce.  STEMtistics are shareable facts that are great for use in presentations, on social media, and even on your website to help you make the case for STEM.

These newly redesigned graphics showcase the latest facts and data on the value of STEM degrees, the occupational growth trends in STEM fields, and so much more!  But these STEMtistics are not just nice to look at -- they represent the real landscape of the STEM workforce and clearly show that the jobs of tomorrow are here today and require a foundation of STEM knowledge and skills.  CTEq member companies understand that, to remain globally competitive, we need to prepare our students by stepping up our math and science standards in K-12 education.  

Be sure to check out the full catalog of workforce STEMtistics and help spread the word by sharing your favorites with friends, colleagues, and other STEMthusiasts!

Tags: STEMtistics, jobs & workforce