Do atheists care about STEM literacy and education as anything other than a gotcha debate point for religionists? In numerous articles about racism in STEM I’ve made the following point: “While Neil D.G. Tyson is widely revered as an icon of science literacy in humanist and atheist circles, there has been little to no humanist or atheist critique of the legacy of segregation that informs STEM inequities” nor are there any major atheist organizations that seek to address these issues through STEM programming or youth leadership development. In fact, last year Black Skeptics approached one of the leading “science n’ reason” spewing atheist organizations about sponsoring a STEM immersion program and scholarship opportunities for youth of color interested in STEM but it was no dice.
Interestingly, now we have (yet another) virtually lily white secular science organization, the humbly titled “Global Secular Council”, comprised of the “the world’s great minds” who place “precedence on science and reason”, who will lead us third world-in-the-first-world barbarians to the frontiers of enlightenment.
On September 13, the Level Playing Field Institute, the Women’s Leadership Project (sponsored by BS) and several other organizations will hold a youth conference on STEM fields, careers and academic disciplines at the University of Southern California. The conference is specifically designed to introduce youth of color to STEM careers, professionals and academics as well as address some of the following egregious stats:
- According to the Washington D.C.-based Stem Connector group, overall interest in STEM has declined among African American high school students and female students of all ethnicities. This decline is especially pronounced in engineering and technology majors and careers
- According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “The percentage of African-Americans earning STEM degrees has fallen during the last decade. In 2009, they received just 7 percent of all STEM bachelor’s degrees, 4 percent of master’s degrees, and 2 percent of PhDs”
- In a typical year, only 13 African-Americans and 20 Latinos of (of all genders) receive Ph.D.’s in physics
- High poverty schools in predominantly African American and Latino communities have fewer “elite” Advanced Placement science courses than do schools in affluent communities
- African Americans are less than 1% of the faculty at Cal Tech and 4% of the faculty at MIT
- Silicon Valley giant Google’s 46,000 plus workforce is 70% men, 30% women, 61% white, 30% Asian, 3% Latino and 2% black — reflecting the overall lack of diversity in SV
As Level Playing Field founder Freada Kapor Klein notes in a recent L.A. Times article on diversity in SV, “Silicon Valley’s obsession with meritocracy is delusional and aspirational and not a statement of how it really operates,” she said. “Unless someone wants to posit that intelligence is not evenly distributed across genders and race, there has to be some systematic explanation for what these numbers look like.”
Insert the Global Secular Institute, rinse, upchuck, repeat.