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  • Writer's pictureAnurag Kejriawl

Socioeconomic Disparities in STEM

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

With the STEM field becoming more prominent throughout the world, it is becoming increasingly essential to be inclusive and foster a diverse STEM community. However, because of poor socioeconomic conditions, this has largely not been the case.


By Anurag Kejriwal


Socioeconomic status causes a huge division in STEM careers and education. Costly equipment and large facilities are difficult to build in poorer areas. Additionally, stressful, dangerous environments prompt deterioration in academic quality.


What is causing STEM scarcity in high-poverty locations?

In less developed areas, students are not exposed to as many academic opportunities, limiting personal exploration. This is especially evident as technology and the materials to fund them are expensive. They serve as a luxury. In addition, concentrated chemicals and important safety equipment, among others, are extremely costly as well, which means prestigious science labs are rare in lower-income areas. The lack of facilities like these creates a tremendous gap in the field of STEM and one that NEEDS to be solved.


How is socioeconomic status affecting students who take STEM-based courses already?

Many people who live in lower socioeconomic conditions still successfully go through the STEM path, despite the harsh challenges that they face. However, due to the intense amount of stress and negative emotions they feel in their life because of their economic circumstances, they often have trouble focusing on academics; this can be detrimental to their aspirations for a STEM career. This is particularly problematic as course achievement is unjustly measured through high-stakes tests that proclaim to determine intelligence but rank socioeconomic status in reality. This added pressure on students only makes this inequity worse and drives a deeper wedge between the ever-growing careers of STEM.


What can we do to fix it?

The notion that only large-scale changes can reduce socioeconomic distinctions in STEM is formed due to the amount of comprehensive structural issues that contribute to the barriers in the field. However, there are other modifications we can make to reduce STEM inequity and make the world a better place for all.

  • Donate: by donating to credible organizations that support STEM equity for all, we can make more facilities available to others and boost learning capabilities in order to give everyone a fair chance at the pursuit of knowledge. We can also hold donation drives and events to encourage and educate people to donate to poverty-stricken areas in hopes of giving the gift of STEM to all.

  • Raise awareness: by simply getting the word out to others and standing up for the socioeconomic gap in STEM, we can lessen the divide and greaten the equality. Now more than ever, there are so many ways to spread the word such as using social media or peacefully protesting for needed change.

  • Mental health resources: by allowing access to a multitude of stress relieving opportunities and general mental health support, we can not only greatly benefit low socioeconomic regions, but also rest of the world by increasing knowledge. These opportunities could be links to different mental health hotlines or even activities that help relieve stress and allow students to overcome their stressors.

There is still much more to be solved in STEM and the inequity within it. Are you willing to help change the world?


 

Sources

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“'Low' Socioeconomic Status Is the Biggest Barrier to Stem Participation.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 26 Feb. 2020, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200226171121.htm.


Ramsay-Jordan, Natasha N. “Hidden Figures: How Pecuniary Influences Help Shape Stem Experiences for Black Students in Grades k-12.” Journal of Economics, Race, and Policy, Springer International Publishing, 4 Jan. 2020, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41996-019-00049-7.


Rozek, Christopher S., et al. “Reducing Socioeconomic Disparities in the STEM Pipeline through Student Emotion Regulation.” PNAS, National Academy of Sciences, 29 Jan. 2019, www.pnas.org/content/116/5/1553.

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