Tech Tuesday: A Call for Latinos in Innovation Fields

Guest post by Eva Smith (@Eva_Smith)

In the second State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama laid out his plan for the future. The President highlighted research, education, technology and infrastructure as pivotal to progress in the United States. Analysts have narrowed it down to just one word, Innovation.

A national call for additional innovation professionals in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields has been made. However, the number of Latinos in the STEM fields is vastly under-represented. Latinos are also under-engaged in the Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) fields.

According to report commissioned by the Latino Technology Alliance in 2007, Latinos are vastly underrepresented in Technology. Latinos were employed in only 5.5% of information technology jobs nationally and only 5.8% of key non-IT high technology jobs. Fewer Latinos than Whites pursue self-employment in science, technology, engineering and math fields, due, in part, the low rates and small numbers of Latinos achieving bachelors, masters, or doctorates in STEM fields. Latinos also remain stranded outside the mainstream due to cycle of poverty, poor educational performance, and limited employment opportunities that characterize many Latino communities.

Additional report key findings indicate that Latino entrepreneurs in technology believe most venture capital is concentrated on the nation’s two coasts, especially the west coast. Latinos are also under-represented in new high technology ventures. In addition, there is not a critical class of innovators and investors to support the rapid growth of Latino-led high technology ventures that serve that market.

In order to successfully increase the number of Latino-origin innovators in STEM fields the report recommends an educational system geared to increase awareness early on. The survey also suggests that more organizations are needed to serve as a conduit between venture capitalists focused on Latino markets and entrepreneurs willing to take on the risk for potential long-term rewards. To stimulate the growth and development of new products, services and markets, organizations and state and local development agencies and area and Latino chambers of commerce should convene and regularly host Latino networking gatherings and inventor/innovator forums, and should develop and maintain intelligence on Latino markets in the U.S. and in Latin America.

Expanding community college research opportunities for Latino students are essential to broadening their participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to the latest report from the Center for Urban Education’s three-year study documenting the institutional pathways Latinos take in earning STEM baccalaureates. There is also an infusion of new federal monies – $100 million annually through 2019 – is slated to increase degree attainment in STEM fields at HSIs.

The opportunities for Latinos in Technology are greater today than ever before. The increase in Latinos usage of Internet, Social Media and smartphone technology has opened many opportunities for Latinos to tap into STEM innovation fields. Bilingual U.S. Latinos can also leverage their cultural understanding and communication skills to create and grow businesses in emerging foreign and domestic high technology and service markets. As a strong voice in the Latino-sphere we also need to recognize fellow Latinos at the ôbleeding edgeö of business and scientific and technological innovation.

Sources:
Latino Technology Alliance
The Center for Urban Education’s three-year study

Let’s talk about Latinos in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM):
Do you agree with the survey?
Where are all the Latinos in STEM fields using New Media?
How will you use New Media to contribute to awareness for additional Latinos In STEM fields?

Eva Smith is a Team Lead – Principal Engineer for a major Telecommunications company.  Her blog, Tech.Food.Life, highlights products, news & events about Technology, Food & Lifestyle.  She promotes events that support the advancement of Women, Education & New Media.  She is a Latino2 Ambassador and volunteers with Department of Education & AVID programs.

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