Latina LEADS Empowers Latinas to Pursue STEAM Education and Careers

Posted on 08/25/2021 @ 11:45 AM

Tags: Technology, Education

By Melissa Cossio

LULAC recognizes that it is critical to empower youth and create a pipeline for Latinas to pursue STEAM college degrees and careers to reduce the economic and educational disparities that are all too prevalent in our communities.

STEM workers are enjoying significantly higher median annual wages than others in non-STEM occupations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in STEM occupations were earning a median annual wage of $89,780, as compared to workers in non-STEM occupations earning $40,020 in 2020. Not only are STEM occupations amongst the highest paid jobs, they are also some of the fastest growing industries. STEM occupations are projected to grow by 8% from 2019 to 2029, as compared to 3.4% for non-STEM occupations.

Although women across the United States have made significant strides in education and economic security, statistics show that Hispanic women still lag behind compared to their non-Hispanic counterparts. Even within the STEM fields, research finds significant pay gaps across gender and racial and ethnic lines. According to a report published in 2021 by the Pew Research Center, the median earnings of women in STEM occupations are about 74% of men’s median earnings in STEM. Hispanic women’s median annual earnings stand at $57,000 as compared to White men’s median annual earnings of $90,600. Furthermore, the National Science Foundation found that while women comprise 25% of the science and technology workforce, Hispanic women represent only 3% of this workforce.

In order to prepare our young women to break into in-demand careers, we must start early. This means promoting better career opportunities through education and mentoring at a young age.

Adding the “Arts” to STEM education is creating new opportunities by connecting the critical areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics together with arts practices and elements. STEAM education is an approach to learning that helps solve real-world problems and drive innovation. STEAM teaches students to take thoughtful risks, think critically about how to solve a problem, embrace teamwork and collaboration, and be creative.

LULAC and Spectrum, part of Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR), a leading broadband connectivity company and cable operator, developed the Latina LEADS (Leadership Entrepreneurship Academia Development Series) program. This robust and impactful program for Hispanic middle school-aged girls aims to increase their exposure to STEAM fields through workshops, interactive STEAM activities, keynote speakers, job shadowing, academic and career guidance, and more. The program curriculum features lessons in technology, engineering, cybersecurity, and broadcasting.

The 2019 program pilot cycle featured three (3) sites in Austin, TX who served 100 students. After completing the program, students reported feeling more supported by the adults in their lives and demonstrated an increased interest in succeeding academically, attending college, and pursuing an education and career in the STEAM fields. After participating, 100% of students now feel it is important to graduate from high school, and 95% now believe it is important for women to be in the STEAM fields.

LULAC and Spectrum are welcoming eight (8) sites for the 2021-2022 Latina LEADS program cycle. Learn more about each site below:

San Benito County LULAC Council #2890 - Hollister, CA
San Benito County LULAC Council #2890 believes it is highly imperative that young Latinas are supported with the opportunity to advance their knowledge in STEAM. These next generational leaders must know how important they are to our community and the country. They seek to serve Latinas with 21st century skills in growing demand and hope to encourage academic achievement, strategic and critical thinking, and an understanding of the digital world.

LULAC Women’s Council of Florida #7269- Bartow, FL
LULAC Women’s Council of Florida #7269 identified a great need for STEM education programming within the Polk County Schools and community in Florida. The Latina LEADS program will open their minds and the doors to numerous avenues for young girls, allowing them the opportunity to grow and foster their future careers both academically and professionally. Their vision for this program is not only to educate, but inspire. A key ingredient in their own council’s mission.

LULAC Council #39000 - Dayton, OH
LULAC Council #39000 wants to ensure Hispanic students in Ohio have access to quality and enriching STEAM opportunities to help them dream big and reach high for their own future and career goals. They are highlighting the importance of early academic intervention to support the development of lifelong learners and the future STEAM labor force of Ohio.

Latinitas - Austin, TX
Latinitas is dedicated to empowering all girls to innovate using media and technology, providing direct digital media and technology training and esteem-boosting services to 3,000 girls and teens across Texas annually. Their goal of cultivating a pipeline from the classroom to the technology workspace is achieved through Latinitas’ digital media+tech+culture formula that builds community and inclusivity.

SMU LULAC Council #4277 - Dallas, TX
Southern Methodist University (SMU) LULAC Council #4277 is empowering the next generation of Latina STEAM leaders by increasing their exposure to college and the STEAM fields. They believe that by providing students with experiences in STEAM they can spark an interest that a student may have not discovered otherwise. This exposure lets students discover new fields beyond the traditional career paths they are accustomed to hearing about.

Fab Lab El Paso - El Paso, TX
Fab Lab El Paso is providing Latina students in the El Paso and Greater El Paso area with workshops in critical 21st-century skills such as 3D printing, virtual reality, robotics, computer coding, and more through a PBL (project-based learning) model. They are an important education innovation advocate in the El Paso region and play a critical role in helping El Paso students access career pathways in technology fields.

LULAC Herencia Council #4297 - Killeen, TX
LULAC Herencia Council #4297’s mission is to inspire, nurture, and support the educational attainment of members of the Hispanic community and elevate those in need while fostering leadership to do the same for future generations. They are providing quality, meaningful programming for students in the Killeen area. The Latina LEADS program’s curriculum will reach at-risk Latinas who would normally not have access to STEAM programming outside of school instruction.

LULAC Concilio Zapatista #4383 - San Antonio, TX
LULAC Concilio Zapatista #4383 has partnered with the Brentwood STEAM School of Innovation with the mission “to build capacity in their students and staff, the next generation of leaders and explorers, using innovative STEAM practices to spark their learning to ensure they are globally competitive and armed with the tools and confidence to own their futures.”

Learn more about the Latina LEADS program at LULAC.org/LatinaLEADS.

Sources [i] www.bls.gov/emp/tables/stem-employment.htm
[ii] www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/04/14/6-facts-about-americas-stem-workforce-and-those-training-for-it/

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