TAKING VOLUNTEER MONTH 365: STEM/STEAM DIVERSITY EDITION

TAKING VOLUNTEER MONTH 365: STEM/STEAM DIVERSITY EDITION

What if I told you that you (Yes, YOU!) could help hundreds, thousands or even millions of people by giving back? Volunteerism has and continues to be the backbone of grassroots movements and affects areas such as health, civil rights, politics and more.

While National Volunteer Month just passed (April), TCGi would like to highlight a cause that we and CEO Avis Yates Rivers are passionate about: STEM Diversity.

STEM stands for the education, careers and initiatives in science, technology, engineering and math. Its extension of the term includes an “A” for arts, creating the acronym for STEAM.

Dr. Judith Ramaley, pic via Association of American Colleges & Universities

The idea of the term “STEM”: was created by (then) Winona State University president, Judith Ramalay (currently at Portland State University), around 2001. After about 10 years, STEM (and later STEAM) became (somewhat) of a household term. It took President Obama in 2011 to really do so. His initiatives for this cause drew a spotlight on a very pertinent question and brought it to the forefront: Why are girls/women and people of color excluded and misrepresented in STEM and STEAM? More importantly, where are the grassroots tools to engage their communities?

President Barack Obama in 2015, engaging with STEM/STEAM students – via Forbes

While STEM and STEAM have been in curriculums for a while, the educational opportunities and programs in marginalized communities and the representation that derives from it in careers are staggeringly low.

For example, according to the United States Department of Commerce, 7 out of 10 STEM positions in the US are held by white, non-Latinx. Black, Native American, and Latinx (any race) workers are half as likely to hold STEM positions compared to the overall workforce, while Asian workers are nearly three times as likely. These numbers are cut in half for women, and women on color are still on the fringe.

TCGi CEO Avis Yates Rivers Book, ‘Necessary Inclusion: Embracing the Changing Faces of Technology’

TCGi’s ties with STEM/STEAM diversity are interwoven: it is in our DNA. Our company started with the dream of a black woman who started selling (then-new) printers, knocking on every door she could. She is our CEO, Avis Yates Rivers. And now, she isn’t knocking on doors, she is asking leaders, women and people of color in STEM to kick the doors down. From panel discussions, blogs, to published work to being awarded by President Barack Obama, we are dedicated to making change!

Avis Yates Rivers participating in Cooper Union/’Hidden Figures’ Panel

From now, until the foreseeable future, every company is or will be rooted in STEM. Whether it’s utilizing wi-fi to making a fast-food order to farming to streaming a concert in the desert of California headlining its first black woman – (her name is Beyoncé, by the way) to the world, everything we rely on is based in STEM and STEAM.

 

There is no doubt that STEM/STEAM will indeed drive the economy. But there is no way to do so without embracing the diversity of the people that use them and place them in high-profile, decision-making positions. But before that, it is important to recognize that this cannot happen without providing the tools to get to these positions.

What’s also troubling, is that the numbers in STEM diversity are lower than they were 15 years ago.

Below are some organizations and causes that TCGi are passionate about. Be the Change!

 

Volunteerism is very important to us. While we would love more activism in STEM/STEAM diversity, there are many great causes in many different fields. Below are questions to determine what’s best for you. Please also visit Volunteer Match, where you enter you interest and location(s) to find an organization near you!

  • Would you like to work with adults, children, animals, or remotely from home?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
  • Are you better behind the scenes or do you prefer to take a more visible role?
  • How much time are you willing to commit?
  • What skills can you bring to a volunteer job?
  • What causes are important to you?

Every year, 62.5 million Americans dedicate their time and resources to help others and you (Yes, YOU!) can also make a difference; not just for you, but for your community!