Companies like Bloomberg are in constant competition to recruit employees with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In fact, the demand for these workers – who design, implement and maintain the innovative new products our clients need – is so intense that we often struggle to find enough qualified candidates to fill our job openings. Part of the problem is that STEM fields tend to attract only a limited number of women, African-Americans and Hispanics. We see this anecdotally in our pool of job applicants, so it was no surprise when the U.S. Census bureau recently released a study that confirmed it.
According to the Census report, “Researchers find that women, Blacks and Hispanics are less likely to be in a science or engineering major at the start of their college experience, and less likely to remain in these majors by its conclusion.” The data shows that only six percent of STEM workers are African-American, seven percent are Hispanic and STEM employment among younger women is on the decline. And this growing crisis extends far beyond the recruiting needs of companies like ours. The fewer people from all backgrounds that choose to obtain degrees STEM fields, the fewer experts we have tackling complex global challenges, from health and nutrition crises, to climate change, to the digital divide that prevents people living in developing countries from fully participating in the global economy.
Given the critically important issues at stake, we’ve focused much of our philanthropic efforts on broadening interest in and access to STEM careers among a broader group of young people. For example, we’ve partnered with organizations like the National Center for Women & Information Technology, whose “Aspirations in Computing Community” initiative increases female participation in technology careers through mentoring and scholarships. We also launched the Bloomberg Technical Scholarship Program last year, which provides tuition aid to high school students who will be studying a STEM major in college, as well as a Bloomberg internship after their sophomore year and an offer of full-time employment at our company for qualified candidates. In addition, we’ve renewed our grant supporting PerScholas, a national nonprofit organization that provides technology education and job placement services for people in low-income communities, and we proudly support the FOSS Outreach Program for Women which provides stipends, travel and other benefits for women who want to participate in open source software projects.
The shortage of women, African-Americans and Hispanics choosing to pursue STEM careers is a problem that affects us all. We’re not going to fix this overnight, but we’re fortunate that organizations like these are addressing it one student at a time. To learn more about Bloomberg’s philanthropic efforts, please visit http://www.bloomberg.com/philanthropy.
Contributed by Dan Doctoroff, Chief Executive Officer and President of Bloomberg L.P.