See How This Coalition is Helping Black Female Techies

Coalition(Image: S. King for the Research Coalition of Black Women and Girls in Computing 2016) (Image: S. King for the Research Coalition of Black Women and Girls in Computing 2016)

 

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the Research Coalition of Black Women and Girls in Computing Conference Committee leadership Chair Dr. Jamika Burge and co-Chairs Drs. Jakita Thomas and Ryoko Yamaguchi to discuss all things computing and technical careers. They provided important background on their organization and shed light on why this career path is so compelling.

BlackEnterprise.com: What was the motivation behind creating the Research Coalition of Black Women and Girls in Computing? 

RCBW&GIC: Black women are one of the least represented groups in the computing discipline. The Black Women in Computing (BWIC) community exists primarily to celebrate the contributions of black women in computing and technical careers and provide communal support and outreach for its members.

The Research Coalition of Black Women and Girls in Computing serves as the research arm of the BWIC community. Created in 2016, it seeks to investigate—through empirical research—ways to combat the lack of awareness of black women in this space. It also seeks to create a body of research focused on and informed by the exploration of the common experiences of black girls and women in computing. The Coalition also plans the annual conference for black women in computing every January.

BE: What has been the biggest hurdle in demonstrating the value in computing-related fields?

RCBW&GIC: Computing has become an integral part of our lives. We use smartphones, laptops, and tablets to do everything from surfing the internet to completing substantive work in every industry. Computing—computer science, more broadly— enables us to apply computational thinking to solve a range of problems.

From developing social media platforms to connecting people, performing data analytics to discovering insights from large amounts of data, and ensuring that the technologies we develop are usable by everyone, computing is an effective problem-solving methodology. To continue to grow as a discipline and truly innovate, computing must embrace the ideas and solutions created from a diverse talent pool.

BE: What are core goals for the foreseeable future?

RCBW&GIC: Immediate goals for the Research Coalition of Black Women and Girls in Computing include continuing to address the issues of intersectionality that are inherently part of the black women in the computing community.

After the January conference, we will cultivate our partnerships to provide research and development workshops for computing students and professionals. We are also in the midst of data collection to better articulate the intersectional experiences of black women in computing and how they are similar to and different from the experiences of women in computing, more generally.

BE: If you could offer one piece of advice to young black women who are undecided about entering a computing related field, what would that be?

RCBW&GIC: Anything worth pursuing will have its challenges. A career in computing is no exception. One amazing benefit, however, is that no black woman interested in pursuing a career in computing needs to feel alone. There is an amazing community available to support her at any stage, whether she’s just starting out or a senior-level professional. We encourage young black women, in particular, to reach out, connect, and network with the BWIC community.

 

 


Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website, WordSmithRapport.com.

 

 

Attorney-Turned-Travel-Journalist Talks Lifestyle, Treks and Well-Being

Travel

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the remarkable Tonya Fitzpatrick, award-winning travel journalist and co-founder of World Footprints Media, to discuss all things travel including, global awareness, culture, and travel tips.

 

Photo Credit: Ian Fitzpatrick (Image: Ian Fitzpatrick)

 

Black Enterprise: Busy professionals don’t often prioritize travel, citing lack of time and financial considerations as deterrents. What are some reasonable ways to embrace travel with limited time and budget?

Fitzpatrick: America is a country that is rich in diversity and history. There are U.S. cities that reflect a rich cultural tapestry dating back centuries, where you can experience Old World traditions and flavors. New York and Miami are prime examples of America’s melting pot of indigenous people, early colonization, and immigration. Even in a place like Havre, Montana you can find examples of early Chinese immigration in the underground city that once housed everything from a brothel and opium dens to a saloon, barber shop, law office, and laundromat.

There are also national heritage trails in cities, like Baltimore and Birmingham, Alabama, where people can explore our nation’s history by car or on foot. So, if time is limited, one doesn’t have to venture far from their backyard to discover a piece of our interesting history. Some hotels, like the Gaylord properties, are akin to to mini cities and offer free family entertainment. Historic properties like the Mayflower (Washington, D.C.), the  Grand Hotel (Michigan), and the Coronado Hotel (California) allows visitors to walk in the footsteps of history, and they provide a nice, quick getaway.

Those looking for an island adventure can travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico without needing a passport. There are also several mainland islands where people can go to unwind: Solomon’s Island (M.D.), Mackinac Island (M.I.), Catalina Island (C.A.), Martha’s Vineyard (M.A.), Jekyll Island (G.A.), to name a few.

There are cultural attractions abound in America, and every major city has a treasure trove of unique offerings.

BE: In what ways can travel add value to an otherwise healthy lifestyle?

Fitzpatrick: Travel always offers a chance to escape from the concrete jungle and recharge. When you visit a developing country and witness the generosity and kindness of people who have nothing more to offer than a smile, even the hardest of hearts will soar. Even if you just want to relax under a palm tree with a drink in your hand, that time offers a chance to compare your size to the vast ocean and realize just how small you are in the world. Relaxing poolside or on the beach also affords a time for reflection and introspection.

BE: What did you learn, and how has it shaped the way you embrace the world around you?

Fitzpatrick: Travel has opened the door to so many possibilities and my eyes to the world around us. When I interviewed Maya Angelou, she reflected what travel has reinforced for me—we have more similarities than we have differences. Traveling around the world, and even this country, is very humbling. it has taught me to value life and the opportunities that I’ve been given.

BE: What is your best advice to someone interested in becoming a global citizen?

Fitzpatrick: Leave your U.S.-centric attitude and expectations at home. Embrace cultural differences, recognize our common humanity, and be a good guest in someone else’s backyard.

 

 


Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the Founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her Website,WordSmithRapport.com.

 

 

Top Tips for an ‘Undeniably Fierce’ Personal Branding Strategy

Personal Branding

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the dynamic Jennifer Ransaw-Smith, CEO of Brand id Strategic Partners, to discuss personal branding and digital presence elevation.

Ransaw-Smith shared valuable insight to help readers position themselves for greater success in the new year:

Black Enterprise: As a personal branding expert and elevation strategist, you are well known for your philosophy for clients to become “undeniably fierce.” What does that mean?

Ransaw-Smith: Being “undeniably fierce” means being unapologetic about who you are. It’s knowing, at a fundamental level, who you are, what you do, and what separates you from everyone else. It’s when a person’s external life matches their internal vibe, and the only validation they require is from the self.

BE: What do most people get wrong about personal branding?

Ransaw-Smith: That 100% of brand work is external. What I didn’t realize when I started my company nine years ago, is that 90% of personal branding is an inside job. The world will never see you higher than you see yourself. While I could provide you with the most cutting-edge tips, tools, and strategies, if you don’t internally believe what you are saying or trying to convey about your brand, it will never work. Others won’t buy into what you are selling.

A few years ago, I recognized a major gap in my belief system about working with C-suite executives and game-changing entrepreneurs. Even though I wanted to attract this niche audience, I struggled with internal roadblocks that prevented it; two words—self-worth. Internally, I didn’t feel worthy of operating on the level I desired. So, I asked myself, how can I become the strategic counsel for someone running a Fortune 500 company, if I don’t even feel “worthy” of walking up and starting a conversation?

So, I dedicated an entire year to “internal branding and elevation,” meaning I did an extraordinary amount of “mindset work.” A year later my, practice was full of senior executives and high-powered entrepreneurs; every call I was fielding was from someone in my ideal “niche audience.”

BE: How would you describe your expertise?

Ransaw-Smith: I specialize in helping clients get clear about who they are, what they do, and what separates them from everyone else. I then help them leverage their undeniable fierceness, to elevate their visibility, credibility, influence, and impact within their industry.

Brand id Strategic Partners, L.L.C., is the nation’s first personal elevation agency. Our services run the gamut, from elevating someone’s mindset and personal image, to helping clients write a book, launch a speaking career, or increase their media coverage. My clients range from Ivy League doctors, who want to elevate their visibility outside of their practice, to corporate executives who want to get on the radar of global organizations looking for new C-suite talent.

BE: What is your best advice for someone who’s fallen down?

Ransaw-Smith: GET UP. When we shift the way we look at failure, we begin to understand that falling and failing isn’t the end of the world. It’s just the universe’s way of telling us to consider alternatives.

I once heard that entrepreneurship is a “full contact sport,” meaning that, if you step in the arena to play this game, you will get bruised. Once you dust yourself off, however, those bruises look and feel 100% better than sitting in the stands as a spectator, wishing you had the courage to play.

BE: Where can our readers find more information about you and Brand id Strategic Partners?

Ransaw-Smith: Check out my website, or visit my:

LinkedIn: JenniferRansawSmith

Instagram: @PersonalElevation

Twitter: @readytoelevate

Facebook: PersonalElevation.

 

 


Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website,WordSmithRapport.com.

 

Top Tips for an ‘Undeniably Fierce’ Personal Branding Strategy

Personal Branding

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the dynamic Jennifer Ransaw-Smith, CEO of Brand id Strategic Partners, to discuss personal branding and digital presence elevation.

Ransaw-Smith shared valuable insight to help readers position themselves for greater success in the new year:

Black Enterprise: As a personal branding expert and elevation strategist, you are well known for your philosophy for clients to become “undeniably fierce.” What does that mean?

Ransaw-Smith: Being “undeniably fierce” means being unapologetic about who you are. It’s knowing, at a fundamental level, who you are, what you do, and what separates you from everyone else. It’s when a person’s external life matches their internal vibe, and the only validation they require is from the self.

BE: What do most people get wrong about personal branding?

Ransaw-Smith: That 100% of brand work is external. What I didn’t realize when I started my company nine years ago, is that 90% of personal branding is an inside job. The world will never see you higher than you see yourself. While I could provide you with the most cutting-edge tips, tools, and strategies, if you don’t internally believe what you are saying or trying to convey about your brand, it will never work. Others won’t buy into what you are selling.

A few years ago, I recognized a major gap in my belief system about working with C-suite executives and game-changing entrepreneurs. Even though I wanted to attract this niche audience, I struggled with internal roadblocks that prevented it; two words—self-worth. Internally, I didn’t feel worthy of operating on the level I desired. So, I asked myself, how can I become the strategic counsel for someone running a Fortune 500 company, if I don’t even feel “worthy” of walking up and starting a conversation?

So, I dedicated an entire year to “internal branding and elevation,” meaning I did an extraordinary amount of “mindset work.” A year later my, practice was full of senior executives and high-powered entrepreneurs; every call I was fielding was from someone in my ideal “niche audience.”

BE: How would you describe your expertise?

Ransaw-Smith: I specialize in helping clients get clear about who they are, what they do, and what separates them from everyone else. I then help them leverage their undeniable fierceness, to elevate their visibility, credibility, influence, and impact within their industry.

Brand id Strategic Partners, L.L.C., is the nation’s first personal elevation agency. Our services run the gamut, from elevating someone’s mindset and personal image, to helping clients write a book, launch a speaking career, or increase their media coverage. My clients range from Ivy League doctors, who want to elevate their visibility outside of their practice, to corporate executives who want to get on the radar of global organizations looking for new C-suite talent.

BE: What is your best advice for someone who’s fallen down?

Ransaw-Smith: GET UP. When we shift the way we look at failure, we begin to understand that falling and failing isn’t the end of the world. It’s just the universe’s way of telling us to consider alternatives.

I once heard that entrepreneurship is a “full contact sport,” meaning that, if you step in the arena to play this game, you will get bruised. Once you dust yourself off, however, those bruises look and feel 100% better than sitting in the stands as a spectator, wishing you had the courage to play.

BE: Where can our readers find more information about you and Brand id Strategic Partners?

Ransaw-Smith: Check out my website, or visit my:

LinkedIn: JenniferRansawSmith

Instagram: @PersonalElevation

Twitter: @readytoelevate

Facebook: PersonalElevation.

 

 


Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website,WordSmithRapport.com.

 

How to Key Up For Success In the New Year

new year

It’s hard to believe, but in just a few short weeks, 2016 will officially be over.

As we approach this critical benchmark, it’s important to take inventory of the current year, to determine how to proceed into the next. With so many factors to consider and possibly even more at stake, are you ready to close out this chapter, and embrace a brand new one?

Well, no matter where you fare on the readiness scale, these strategies will help you key up for success in the new year.

1.  Assess Past Performance

 

It’s fairly difficult to move forward without taking a hard look at your most recent track record. Review your outcomes against the goals you set for yourself in 2016. How well did you do? What factors accounted for your successes, and for your failures? How can you repeat past successes and pivot to avoid making the same mistakes that caused you to fall short of your goals? Be honest. You only hurt yourself by sugarcoating the facts.

2. Challenge the Status Quo

 

Growth is an important aspect of success. The willingness to be uncomfortable to catalyze results is also the hallmark of a winning mindset. How can you challenge yourself to push past your comfort zone and achieve even greater successes? Examine where you were a year ago. What did you do differently this year to catapult your success? Determine where you would like to be a year from now. Then, chunk the steps to create a plan that can be easily executed right now—not next year.

3. Get an Accountability Partner

 

Rarely do we perfect anything without the benefit of a fresh perspective. Consider partnering with your best of breed advisors. Who among them would be a good fit? Who could also benefit from an accountability partner? No matter who you select, mutual accountability and consistency is key. Set the tone early. Be honest and prepare to hold each other’s feet to the fire. Create a plan for success and work out the kinks. Much like challenging the status quo, you should also begin this component before the end of this year.

Has the reality of the new year settled in? If so, you’re not alone. But, there’s no need to become anxious.  You have a plan of attack. Welcome the new year with open arms by implementing the above strategies that will help you key up for success. After all, there’s only one way to approach a new year—and that’s with earnest enthusiasm.

Cheers to your success!


Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the Founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her Website,WordSmithRapport.com.

The Number One Reason Leaders Need Feedback

Feedback

Are you anxious about receiving feedback? Don’t be.

If you’re a leader or want to become one, know this; feedback is an invaluable tool, and smart leaders aren’t afraid to ask for it.

Of the various reasons that feedback is good for learning, growth, and performance, there’s a top one that stands out above the rest: cognitive bias.  If you think that you are more skilled than you actually are and act on that false premise, you can seriously damage your work product, reputation, and in some cases, even your entire career.

The phenomenon behind this otherwise “unwitting ignorance” is called the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is defined as, “A cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability to recognize their [own] ineptitude.”

However, leaders simply cannot afford to be grossly mistaken about what they know; the skills they have versus the ones they don’t. They need to know for sure. One way to gain clarity in this area and avoid the Dunning-Kruger effect is to check in and ask for feedback.

Asking for feedback isn’t a sign of weakness. People who ask for it are mentally tough and able to harness the power of constructive criticism. They also have some idea about their strengths and weaknesses, which compels them to seek the advice of those who know more and better, especially where blind spots are concerned.

If you aren’t accustomed to receiving formal feedback at work via regular performance reviews or, for example, via a 360 Degree Feedback system—which involves anonymous feedback given by others you work with including peers, employees, managers, and the like—then you may not know what to expect from the process or how to receive it.

The above referenced methods are simply two of many. But no matter which method of feedback you engage in, it should include a structure for expectations and how to meet them, as well as provide specific instructions on how to correct missteps in the future.

The bottom line is this: If you are a leader and haven’t included regular feedback in your professional repertoire, you are doing yourself and those you serve a grave disservice.

Stop dodging the ball. Get help identifying your blind spots and work to become better. Most of all, remember that being grossly mistaken about what you know—the skills you have and the ones you don’t—is a surefire way to negatively impact your work product, reputation, and in some cases, your entire career.

Lead from the front by getting the feedback that you need.

Off to your success!

Karima Mariama-Arthur is Founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, a boutique consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter @WSRapport.

Dr. Kamau Bobb Talks Encouraging Interest in STEM Education

Kamau Bobb

Dr. Kamau Bobb continues the conversation with BlackEnterprise.com here.

[Read Part 3 here]

BlackEnterprise.com: What is your advice for encouraging interest in STEM education at both the elementary and university levels?

Dr. Kamau Bobb: There is no easy answer to encouraging students to pursue STEM fields. Evidence suggests that large proportions of students of all colors are in fact interested in pursuing post-secondary STEM education or employment. There is no shortage of interest, however, there is most certainly a shortage of opportunity and a chasm separating those who are properly prepared from those who are not.

Privilege is as privilege does. There are ample opportunities for children of privilege to pursue their interests through camps, programs, special courses, adult encouragement, and resource-rich schools. By definition, this is not true for students climbing up the rough side. The heart of the larger social challenge is not encouraging student interest in STEM fields, rather it is providing them a structure to ensure success in their subsequent pursuit.

In some ways, young people are all the same. If you provide them an environment that is welcome and safe, and if you offer them an experience that is engaging, logical, and resonating, they will learn and thrive. That is as true for STEM subjects as it is for all others.

At the moment, there is significant emphasis on exposure to STEM activities, particularly for students of color. This is manifested in the array of robotics programs, coding camps, and hackathons all across the country. The objective is to trigger in young people an interest in pursuing computing as well as STEM fields more broadly. This is a critical, early-stage intervention.

The next stage is of equal importance. At all levels, K-12, developing a structured set of courses, academic support, and consistent encouragement is necessary for student success. Make no mistake; there is no escaping the reality that success in STEM fields requires an extraordinary amount of intellectual discipline and long hours of hard, personal work. Like anything else, there is no other path to mastery and intellectual clarity. As such, building an infrastructure to support that path for more students is the challenge.

My advice for encouraging success in STEM fields is to have that in mind. Once a student’s interest is piqued, forging the path to success is the next, natural step.

BlackEnterprise.com: Where can our readers find out more about your work and latest musings on these topics?

Dr. Bobb: I’ve written extensively on these topics, some of which have appeared in The Root, The Atlantic and The White House Blog. I also have a personal bog, which is update regularly at Kamau Bobb. Also, please feel free to connect with me on Twitter @Kamau-b.

Karima Mariama-Arthur is Founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, a boutique consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter @WSRapport.

Dr. Kamau Bobb Dishes on Policy Priorities of STEM Education (Part III)

BlackEnterprise.com: What are the policy implications for challenges in STEM education?

Dr. Kamau Bobb: In the context of computing and computational skills, the crisis in basic mathematics and literacy among so many students creates a challenge of policy priority. School districts are held accountable to students’ achievement in mathematics, reading, and social studies. Thus, they are the primary subjects tested in many states. There is a national consensus that students must have basic numeracy, literacy skills, and know something about the civic infrastructure of the country. Keeping school leaders accountable to only those subjects, however, means that those subjects receive a disproportionate amount of students’ class time. This is especially true in districts serving students of color. While education certainly requires the acquisition of rudimentary skills, it should not be limited to them.

As a process, education should also embrace unlimited opportunities for learning, exploration, and should promote critical thinking beyond the classroom. When testing season begins in the spring for millions of public school students across the country, particularly for those in challenged districts, their education is suspended in lieu of test preparation. Specifically, the education and knowledge that is built on basic literacy and numeracy is halted—an understandable, yet troublesome consequence of this crisis.

While standardized testing is ubiquitous in American education, this is a problem that affects students of color and poor students in ways that are vastly different than students of privilege. Teachers and school leaders rightly make the claim that it would be nice to educate our children, but they need to save them first—by arming them with basic skills they need to survive at a functional level. As a result of this triage system of education, innovation and other learning opportunities—like computing—are limited.

What does that mean for computer science (CS) education?

The surge of national emphasis on computer science education is having the positive result of changing education policy priorities. The Obama Administration initiative, CS for All, highlights how CS education is among the core set of proficiencies that all students need. It is moving computer science from the periphery of education to the centeralongside basic mathematics, reading, and civics. That shift is among the most significant policy outcomes.

School districts, like New York City Public Schools which has 1.1 million students and 1,800 schools, have declared that all of their students will have basic computer science education within the next decade. That is a fundamental shift in policy priority. It has unleashed a thriving array of grass roots social entrepreneurs looking to engage, excite, and encourage students of all kinds to pursue computing skills and STEM fields.

More structurally, it has led to a research agenda in the academy studying effective means of teaching computing, infusing computing into the traditional mathematics and science courses. If school leaders can be assured that, based on research evidence, the infusion of computing into core mathematics yields improved student performance, they are more likely to engage in innovative forms of instruction. It offers a tremendous opportunity for creative school districts to work collaboratively with the constellation of out-of-school programs to really complement student learning in STEM fields.

Karima Mariama-Arthur is Founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, a boutique consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter @WSRapport.

Dr. Kamau Bobb Talks Research and Challenges in STEM Education

BlackEnterprise.com: How has your work impacted outcomes for your clients, both nationally and internationally?

Dr. Kamau Bobb: As a program officer at the National Science Foundation, my role is to help facilitate the direction of scholarly research. As a whole, the foundation is committed to improving student achievement in STEM education for the United States. My focus is on developing an equitable landscape for rigorous, high-quality CS education. One of my primary interests is merging the research community that focuses on education broadly with the CS education community.

The CS education community is comprised mostly of university faculty in computer science. Their interests in diversity and broadening participation are leading them to increase focus on issues of identity, stereotype threats, and the negative, quiet forces that result in students of color and women not persisting in CS. However, the broader education research community studies that work more directly. It focuses on the factors that contribute to both the success and failure of our most vulnerable student populations.

Merging the collective research power of these two communities is a goal of mine, yet the impact of my effort remains to be seen. The power and sincerity of these two research communities leaves me fully optimistic that they will produce useful insights with and for our young people while working together.

What are the most significant challenges facing STEM education and the STEM workforce?

The most significant challenge facing STEM education and the workforce is the capacity of the U.S. educational system to produce interested and qualified participants in the STEM enterprise. Here is where the racial and socio-economic challenges facing the nation are most glaring.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics National Report Card, there are some damning realities that significantly challenge STEM education and the STEM workforce. In 2015, only 33% of all eighth grade students in the U.S. were proficient or better in mathematics. Only 13% of black eighth graders and 19% of Hispanic eighth graders were proficient or better in mathematics, which is in contrast to 43% of white students and 61% of Asian students. For students who live in poverty and qualify for the National School Lunch Program, only 18% were proficient in eighth grade mathematics.

According to the College Board, only 16% of black students are college or career ready by the time they take the SAT in eleventh grade. For Hispanic students, 23% are ready. For Asian and white students, 61% and 53%, respectively, are ready for higher education or to take on meaningful work. This landscape is a problem.

This data is certainly grim and outlines a bimodal education system that simply does not work for many students of color and students who live in poverty. Looking at it another way, if we are to believe the College Board, approximately 84% of black young people who have spent 12 years in school are not ready for college and are certainly not ready for a career in a STEM field. This reality is nothing new, yet it remains the primary challenge facing STEM education and the workforce in the United States.

STEM fields are not immune to the national challenges that exist at the intersection of race and class. The weight of the challenges heaped upon students of color who are also poor is unfathomable. Lifting that weight off the backs of our young people is the most pressing responsibility and significant challenge facing STEM educators, policy advocates, the tech sector, and the nation itself.

Karima Mariama-Arthur is Founder and CEO of  WordSmithRapport, a boutique consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter @WSRapport.

Dr. Kamau Bobb Talks Research and Challenges in STEM Education

BlackEnterprise.com: How has your work impacted outcomes for your clients, both nationally and internationally?

Dr. Kamau Bobb: As a program officer at the National Science Foundation, my role is to help facilitate the direction of scholarly research. As a whole, the foundation is committed to improving student achievement in STEM education for the United States. My focus is on developing an equitable landscape for rigorous, high-quality CS education. One of my primary interests is merging the research community that focuses on education broadly with the CS education community.

The CS education community is comprised mostly of university faculty in computer science. Their interests in diversity and broadening participation are leading them to increase focus on issues of identity, stereotype threats, and the negative, quiet forces that result in students of color and women not persisting in CS. However, the broader education research community studies that work more directly. It focuses on the factors that contribute to both the success and failure of our most vulnerable student populations.

Merging the collective research power of these two communities is a goal of mine, yet the impact of my effort remains to be seen. The power and sincerity of these two research communities leaves me fully optimistic that they will produce useful insights with and for our young people while working together.

What are the most significant challenges facing STEM education and the STEM workforce?

The most significant challenge facing STEM education and the workforce is the capacity of the U.S. educational system to produce interested and qualified participants in the STEM enterprise. Here is where the racial and socio-economic challenges facing the nation are most glaring.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics National Report Card, there are some damning realities that significantly challenge STEM education and the STEM workforce. In 2015, only 33% of all eighth grade students in the U.S. were proficient or better in mathematics. Only 13% of black eighth graders and 19% of Hispanic eighth graders were proficient or better in mathematics, which is in contrast to 43% of white students and 61% of Asian students. For students who live in poverty and qualify for the National School Lunch Program, only 18% were proficient in eighth grade mathematics.

According to the College Board, only 16% of black students are college or career ready by the time they take the SAT in eleventh grade. For Hispanic students, 23% are ready. For Asian and white students, 61% and 53%, respectively, are ready for higher education or to take on meaningful work. This landscape is a problem.

This data is certainly grim and outlines a bimodal education system that simply does not work for many students of color and students who live in poverty. Looking at it another way, if we are to believe the College Board, approximately 84% of black young people who have spent 12 years in school are not ready for college and are certainly not ready for a career in a STEM field. This reality is nothing new, yet it remains the primary challenge facing STEM education and the workforce in the United States.

STEM fields are not immune to the national challenges that exist at the intersection of race and class. The weight of the challenges heaped upon students of color who are also poor is unfathomable. Lifting that weight off the backs of our young people is the most pressing responsibility and significant challenge facing STEM educators, policy advocates, the tech sector, and the nation itself.

Karima Mariama-Arthur is Founder and CEO of  WordSmithRapport, a boutique consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter @WSRapport.