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We know that the only thing better than reaching for the stars is actually touching them. Maryland Moonshot is partnering with Million Girls Moonshot, a national initiative to re-imagine who can engineer, who can build, who can invent, and who can make their dreams a reality.

We will inspire and prepare the next generation of innovators by engaging one million more girls in STEM learning opportunities through after-school and summer programs over the next 5 years. Buckle up — it’s gonna be an amazing ride!

What is STEM?

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. These four sectors make up the fastest growing sector in the modern economy.

STEM careers are large and varying. They include industries from health to entertainment to animals to government. Workers in STEM solve some of the largest problems that our world is facing today by researching data, analyzing the facts, collaborating with teammates, staying curious, and always seeking answers.

Unfortunately, as STEM moves forward it is leaving large swaths of people behind, including African American, Indigenous, and Latino populations, and women and LGBTQ individuals. But in the last decade, there have also been more and more programs created to fix this disparity.

STEM still has some serious equity issues.

Maryland Moonshot is bringing equity to STEM across the state of Maryland by connecting those who are still left out: women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals.

Our strategy is simple. We are a network of STEM-focused youth development organizations in Maryland. We recognize the barriers that are keeping people out of STEM, so we’re bridging the gap to resources, organizations, and educational information right here on this website. Our STEM Opportunities page houses many organizations from across the state who are engaging the next generation of scientists and technicians.

Two women in kayaks on the river.
Two young girls at a STEM museum.
A Black woman showing off STEM items.

Education Issues 🎓

Education is considered the gold standard of mobility in the United States, but people around the country experience poor K-12 education because of a long history of racism and poverty. When it comes to the STEM industries, this lack of educational equity puts minority groups at a serious disadvantage.

Many students simply lack access to the classes and educators they need to succeed in STEM fields. According to US News and World Report, “more than half of U.S. high schools do not offer calculus, 4 in 10 do not offer physics, more than 1 in 4 do not offer chemistry, and more than 1 in 5 do not offer Algebra II, which is considered a gateway class for STEM success in college.” For girls, problems like inherent bias and math anxiety in female teachers add onto these issues.

If students make it to pursue STEM majors in college, they rarely see professors who look like them. “Among [STEM] full-time faculty, 77% are white, 10% are Asian/Pacific Islander, 6% are Black, 4% are Hispanic, and 3% are other or mixed race.” Unequal education means that it’s harder for diverse students to succeed.

Workplace Struggles 🔬

The STEM industry has a wide variety of jobs. But many of these jobs have not got with the times and fully integrated to include women and people of color. This lack of diversity in the STEM workplace has many interconnected causes.

For women, sexual harassment is one of the most persistent issues in the workplace. Additionally, sexist discrimination in hiring practices, educational requirements, and a lack of informal “contact networks” leads to fewer women within STEM workplaces.

For people of color, entering the workplace often comes with hosts of microaggressions as well. These include tokenism, tensions when voicing opinions, and a lack of cultural understanding.

The Wage Gap 💸

The wage gap is a term used to describe when women and people of color are paid less than their white, male coworkers. It is felt in every workplace across the country, including STEM fields. According to the AAUW, “women working full-time in the U.S. are paid 82 cents to every dollar earned by men — but it doesn’t stop there. The consequences of this gap affect women throughout their lives.” Women hold nearly two-thirds of the outstanding student debt in the United States, in large part due to the fact that they aren’t getting paid equal wages.

The wage gap for women of color is even higher. It can be traced back to past injustices of slavery and redlining, and it persists today because of ongoing racism. Women are not often trained on salary and benefit negotiation, which means that women take jobs for thousands of dollars less than their male equals.

Additionally, giving birth and raising children continues to be unpaid work. Women are more likely to take time off to care for children than men, which unfairly increases the wage gap.

So why join STEM in Maryland?

Networks of Support

Since STEM has not been made for everyone, it’s important to have networks of support. A growing number of groups are helping make space for minorities in STEM.
From Girls Who Code to Latinas in STEM to the Society of Women Engineers, there are many networks you can join!

Find a support network!

It’s also important to find a mentor. Mentors can be people you already know, like a teacher or a family member working in a STEM field. Reach out and ask if they can take you under their wing! You can also find a mentor on LinkedIn, which is like Facebook for professionals.

Fast Growing Industries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be nine million more STEM jobs by 2022. The University of Georgia also states that jobs in STEM will keep growing and growing. Science, technology, engineering, and math are truly becoming crucial parts of many industries. 

A STEM career is a safe and stable choice. You’re twice as likely to find and keep a job if you go into STEM, and that’s a fact! Click the buttons below to learn more about the top 5 fastest growing industries in STEM:

Earning Potential

Want to make good money? Learn STEM! Wages in STEM are expected to keep rising over the next 5-year period. In Maryland, wages have increased yearly for people who have received STEM certifications and degrees. Nationwide, STEM workers earn 26% more than non-STEM workers.

Computer science and engineering workers with Master’s degrees earn on average 80K per year! Generally, the more education you get, the more money you can make. While the wage gap unfortunately exists for minorities, STEM careers are still considered great, high-earning jobs compared to other  options.