Last week, the Washington State Olympian newspaper ran an editorial urging state legislators to support Governor Inslee's STEM education funding proposals, which include dramatically expanding access to computer science classes and connecting students to careers. Washington STEM, the state's leading STEM advocacy group, is doing critical work to fuel this agenda, and to ensure that it focuses on "access for low income, rural and underrepresented populations."
We think that focus is spot on. Like many states, Washington struggles with enormous gender and racial gaps in the STEM fields. Here's a small sample of state data from our Vital Signs website.
First, women receive less than one out of every four computer credentials in the state. Compare that to roughly 37 percent in 2001:
The racial and ethnic gaps are equally alarming. Black, Latino, and American Indian Washingtonians make up 21 percent of the college-age population but receive only 11% of degrees and certificates in computing:
Such gaps begin early. There is evidence that many minorities' talents are getting squandered in high school or earlier:
To dig deeper into STEM education data in Washington State, download our Washington State PowerPoint presentation. For similar data on other states, see our state Vital Signs Summaries page.