The fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) all benefit from diverse voices, but still lack professionals from diverse backgrounds. At colleges and universities, initiatives are sprouting up to make STEM more welcoming to people of color. For example, the University of Illinois Chicago’s Latin@s Gaining Access to Networks for Advancement in Science (L@S GANAS) is working hard to attract young Latinx people to STEM.

According to its website, “L@S GANAS exists to ensure that Latinx students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) succeed at UIC. It seeks to increase the number of Latinx professionals in the STEM field, provide financial assistance to Latinx students, increase retention of Latinx students in the STEM majors, and foster a community where Latinx students see their cultural heritage as an asset in the lab.

Recently, L@S GANAS received the INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s 2020 Inspiring Programs in STEM, the largest and longest-running diversity-focused magazine in US higher education.

Universities and organizations can do a lot to help accelerate diversity in STEM, as programs like L@S GANAS demonstrate. “Transforming institutional structures” is necessary to foster the advancement of women and people of color in STEM, according to a recent article co-published in the World Economic Forum by the Nature Chemistry, Chemical Science, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Canadian Journal of Chemistry, and Croatica Chemica Acta. They recommend 6 ways schools and organizations can nurture diversity both in and outside their walls, including:

  • Set up mentorship opportunities. For example, L@S GANAS pairs older students with first-year students for mentoring.
  • Create online peer communities. #ScienceTwitter is an example.
  • Offer opportunities for financial support for career development that help people from diverse backgrounds. For example, Intel Corporation recently launched a program for historically Black colleges (HBCUs) that produces scholarships and career development opportunities that help forge career pathways for Black STEM students and professionals.
  • Encourage diversity initiatives like L@S GANAS that intentionally engage and support students and professionals from diverse backgrounds..
  • Highlight the work of scientists from diverse backgrounds in and outside of your organization (using your social media accounts is one way this can be done).

Read more blogs about Diversity in STEM on TryEngineering.