Bridging the diversity gap in STEM fields


Less than 2% of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers are filled by African Americans or Latinos. This diversity gap crosses gender boundaries as well, with less than 30% of these positions being held by women. The Richmond Community Foundation (RCF) is trying to change that.

This Thursday, the RCF is holding its 6th annual Northern California Summit on Children and Youth. The theme this year, “Bridging the STEM Diversity Gap: Building the Next Generation Workforce”, is part of an effort to make STEM careers more accessible to diverse communities. 

Bridging this diversity gap “starts with creating pathways and opportunities for people from a young age,” explains Stacey Street of the RCF. “Because the summit is only one day, we’re going to bring everything that local youth need to learn about the importance of creating diversity in STEM careers.”

The summit will do this in a number of ways. First, Richmond Vice Mayor Jael Myrick and City Manager Bill Lindsay will give opening remarks to help contextualize the event. Myrick is leading the city’s launch of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which was started by President Obama to help provide opportunities for young men of color, and he will discuss the importance of increasing the number of minorities in STEM fields.  

Lindsay will help root the importance of STEM education with local opportunities, like the Berkeley Global Campus, which is still in development. 

From there, the attendees — local high school and college students — will have the chance to explore the Interactive Resource Village which will provide opportunities for them to explore STEM fields first hand. Among the stations will be an inflatable astronomy dome from Oakland’s Chabot Space and Science Center where students can explore the stars. 

Hack the Hood, the non-profit which introduces low-income youth of color to careers in technology, will have a booth discussing their programs for young adults. Hack the Hood is also partnering with the RYSE community center in the city to bring these programs to local kids at an everyday level. 

“By exploring these fields hands-on, we’re hoping to engage kids and show them the possibilities of STEM careers,” Street explains. “This is the first step in bridging the gap of these fields.”

There is still time to register for the event. Click here to learn more and to sign up.


Photo courtesy Slate.

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