Today marks the sixth International Day of Women and Girls in Science and if the past year has shown us anything, it is that any bright future for America relies heavily on scientific and technical innovation in essential sectors like health care, energy, infrastructure development, and food production – all of which depend on chemistry. But without a robust, inclusive workforce we will not only lose our competitive edge as a global leader in innovation, our economic prosperity will also deteriorate.

It’s no secret that women and minorities remain inadequately represented in chemistry and other technology-related jobs. However, the major obstacle keeping many diverse students from pursuing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) might surprise you.

For the U.S. to remain competitive, the National Science Board (NSB) estimates that the number of women must nearly double, Black or African Americans must more than double, and Hispanic or Latinos must triple the number that are currently represented in the science and engineering workforce. But while access to advanced math and science curricula at the K-12 level remains uneven, when researchers controlled for access, they found that the greatest barrier was creating an environment of encouragement and care for diverse students.

At the Chemical Educational Foundation (CEF), we are keenly aware of these equity gaps and have restructured our Community Partnerships and K-12 programming to help reach and support more students where they are. Click here to read the full article.