Shilpi Agarwal


November 21, 2022


Let’s start by examining closely our workforce today and why we don’t have an inclusive and diverse tech workforce:

  1. According to the Pew Research Center, Black and Hispanic workers remain underrepresented in the STEM workforce. Compared to white workers, their representation is as low as 5-13% in engineering roles.
  2. Representation of women in STEM varies across job clusters. In engineering, it is as low as 15% or in computer jobs as low as 25%, compared to the representation of women in health-related positions.
  3. Women in STEM earn less than their male counterparts across all racial and ethnic groups.
  4. Sizeable pay gaps among STEM workers by gender, race, and ethnicity remain.
  5. Women are underrepresented among math, physical science, engineering, and computer science graduates.
  6. 52-60% of U.S. adults say they don’t pursue STEM degrees because of the difficulty of the subjects.
  7. Barriers to STEM Education are cost, time, and interest.
  8. Barriers to STEM careers also include perceived obstacles due to gender and no female mentor representation.

So, what happens to the technology we build without an inclusive and diverse workforce?

  1. The people building today’s technology do not share the same lived experiences as many of its users. Not only does it widen the existing disparities in society, it amplifies them.
  2. Minorities and communities of color do not have a pathway into the tech sector. They do not have representation or access to a seat at the table. This, in turn, compounds the problem of racially biased data as well as racially biased technologies.

The problem of racial bias and lack of inclusion in tech is not simple; it is multifold. A lack of diversity in tech does not have its roots at the employment stage. It starts at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Then it branches out to mentoring and networking opportunities throughout college and beyond. The problem has multiple layers at each level, but they all have one thing in common: lack of access. Access to STEM knowledge. Access to mentors, peers, and networking opportunities from a dedicated community of leaders willing to invest in their best interests.

We can solve this through a multi-pathway program that breaks barriers and promotes cognitive diversity through peer-to-peer support with a bottoms-up approach from classroom to conferences. We need a program that provides education, mentoring, and a global peer network from high school to college to early and mid-career professionals.

A solution that provides representation, accessibility, and is affordable for all.

  • DataEthics4Allᵀᴹ Foundation’s STEAM in AIᵀᴹCollege Prep Research and Buildᵀᴹ Program helps provide experiential learning and career mentoring to high school students by Ph.D. and college students in the fields of data science, artificial intelligence, and STEAM that they’d perhaps pursue as a career.
  • 1:1 Matched Mentoring in STEAM and AI: DataEthics4All matches high school students with college students based on their interests. Students get an opportunity to build a life-long mentor-mentee relationship through these 1:1 mentoring experiences.
  • Career Exploration through Experiential Learning: Students get to explore STEAM and AI career paths even if science, math, and coding are not their top passions. This increases the chances of students choosing a high-paying STEAM career.
  • Better Story for College Applications: Our STEAM in AI College Prep Program facilitates learning through actual research or a building project. Through experiential learning, students have an opportunity to articulate a better story that conveys their research or project challenges and achievements.

This unique approach solves all challenges discussed earlier in pursuing STEM careers. It specifically addresses issues around cost, time, interest, representation, and female mentors. DataEthics4All Foundation is helping high school students explore STEAM and AI career pathways and prepare for careers and jobs of the future that don’t exist today to help build an equitable, diverse, and inclusive future workforce.

We’re creating a STEAM in AI Alliance to help break barriers of entry in tech for K-20 students from low-income families, minority groups, girls, and help them explore career pathways in STEAM and AI, thereby building an equitable tech pipeline and a diverse future workforce. We invite all of you to join this alliance and work with us at the city, county, regional, and state levels to bring the STEAM in AI Programs to all students nationwide and around the globe.

About the authors

Shilpi Agarwal