Less talk, more action
This past week I was a remote participant in a discussion hosted by The Clinton Foundation regarding STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) resources in educational environments, and the real and/or perceived ability of young women to access science- and technology-centric academic programs. As I listened to the personal stories shared by attendees on their struggles to obtain STEM knowledge, and watched the clock move nearer to the close of the online event, I began feeling discouraged – “What is our call to action?” I wondered.
While the right of entry to STEM education is a prominent recurring dialogue between our nation’s non-profit organizations, universities, and political leaders, the results appear to be simply this – discourse. Talk.
Identifying and conveying the issues at hand is important, though we are exhausting our collective investment in the creation of words and their delivery. The vocalized intentions of many organizations appear to be solely statements, restatements, and the reframing of the barriers to action.
Words are valuable until they are not; when the final leg of the two-part commitment is lost – the action – stated intentions then only add to the ever-increasing din of false missions driven by marketing and public relations teams.
This much is evident to all invested in the conversation – the obstacles to integrating computer science education in schools are great. Ambitious programs like One Laptop, One Child, an international effort to “provide each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop,” failed to speak to the intangible, less easily addressed issues; the technology industry is currently largely driven by business-to-business and consumer sales, not empathy.
For a mass of individuals frequently labeled ‘innovators’, the incapacity of the industry to envision improving much outside advertising engagement and mobile application downloads is astounding. And this is a matter that ultimately impacts our united whole given projected available professional roles in the coming decades.
We must stop discussing the standing results of the issue and instead determine how to incentivize organizations to develop accessible hardware/software for science and technology education in K-12 environments. We know the rate of women awarded engineering degrees is alarmingly low in comparison to male counterparts, so let us acknowledge the sociocultural realities impacting young girls’ perception of STEM education and alter this view in action, providing children and educators – all children, and all educators – the resources to excel.
And they will excel. We know this.
Let us commit, together, to raising a generation of individuals prepared to meet the requirements of tomorrow’s high-paying professions.
Let us quiet our voices and refocus. Let us act.