I’m one who likes to celebrate accomplishments not just of my community, but in general any group that is working towards progressing us in a more positive and inclusive direction. We’ve made quite a bit of progress when it comes to making sure we are sharing stories and listening to voices for example of women, queer people, minorities, etc. But what happens when there’s a persistent omission or a persistent problem, that we are all aware of, but continues to exist? In this case I’m talking about Latinas in STEM, and the fact they make up only 2% of its work force. We need to see more people like Gabriela Leon Gutierrez Coronavirus fighting hero Latina scientist!
At this point women represent 57% of college students, only 24% of the jobs in STEM are held by women and when it comes to Latinas, it becomes a single digit percentage. In fact in 2017 Latinas made up only 1% of the computing work force.
There are entire organizations, foundations and funds dedicated to promoting women in STEM, and while there’s still work to be done, the fruits of their labor are pretty readily visible. From Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to Susan Wojcicki in visible, marketable, amplifiable roles, we do to some degree see women. But where are the Latinas? Latinos in general are incredibly underrepresented in STEM with only 67% of Hispanic students having access to a full range of STEM courses (Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Calculus, Biology, Chemistry and Physics) according to the Whitehouse Initiative on Education.
But here’s the incredible, glaring, insane statistic that’s been sticking in my head: In 2015 only 2% of Latinas held science and engineering positions according to the National Science Foundation. At this point women represent 57% of college students, only 24% of the jobs in STEM are held by women and when it comes to Latinas, it becomes a single digit percentage. In fact in 2017 Latinas made up only 1% of the computing work force.
To honor and empower the 2%… (which I’m really hoping by 2019 has changed) the rest of this article is to enlighten, empower and put the spotlight on Latina engineer Jessica Marquez.
Jessica is a Princeton graduate with a PHd from MIT, who has spent the last 10 years working at NASA as a Human Systems Engineer and Research Scientist at the Ames Research Center. She’s involved in controlling the International Space Station, training astronauts and a whole bunch of other stuff that make her resume looks suspiciously like that of a time traveler.
She was recently profiled by Forbes magazine both for her work with organizations such as “career girls” which helps promote STEM careers for Latinas. We’re passing along her message to Latinas looking to pursue a career in STEM which is to “keep at it!” because every day there are more and more Latinas in STEM creating a better environment in the industry, as well as more opportunities for mentorships, which are key to making stem careers for Latinas a reality.
Here’s a list of other incredible women in STEM via Mashable.