Recently, two TMCC students, Nicole Rowe and Raquel Moultrie, were featured on the Nevada STEM Student Voices Project, an initiative from the Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology. The STEM Student Voices Project highlights the stories of underrepresented students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) so that students who follow in their footsteps know there are others like them who have struggled, persisted, and succeeded in STEM education and STEM careers.
Challenges for Young Women in STEM
Raquel Moultrie is a first-generation college student. Her family faced challenges that, Moultrie says: “I’ve always been motivated to not follow.... [instead, I want to] work as hard as I can to be successful.” Currently, Moultrie plans on majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and (perhaps) double-majoring in Wildlife Ecology with the end goal of becoming a Wildlife and Small Animal Veterinary Surgeon.
Nicole Rowe grew up in a small town in Nevada, “...and I always saw myself becoming a nurse,” she said. However, after researching other opportunities in the medical field, fueled Rowe discovered that her true calling is Medical School.
Moultrie and Rowe are harbingers of the changing face of the STEM-workforce: women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce as of 2017. And while women are still underrepresented in this field, it is to a lesser degree than in the past. Women receive far fewer degrees than men in the computer sciences (17.9%), engineering (19.3%), physical sciences (39%) and mathematics (43.1%), yet they receive over half of biological science degrees.
“My struggle was deciding which degree to pursue,” said Rowe. “My first choice was biology, but as I advanced… I became less fascinated. My affinity grew for chemistry. Chemistry keeps me on my toes.”
Why STEM and Why Now?
According to the Nevada Office of Science, Innovation and Technology, the demand for skilled workers in Nevada’s STEM industries (requiring knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and math) is growing 41% faster than jobs in non-STEM industries.
On average, new STEM graduates earn more than graduates from other fields, and half of the available jobs in STEM industries do not require a four-year degree. STEM jobs across all industries in Nevada pay an average of $34 per hour whereas non-STEM jobs pay an average of $21.66 per hour; additionally, 50% of STEM jobs in Nevada require an associate degree or industry-recognized credential rather than a bachelor’s degree.
“Equity in STEM education is the first pillar of Nevada’s State Strategic Plan for STEM. Creating an environment where students from all backgrounds can succeed in STEM fields is not just the right thing for students, it is also necessary for Nevada to reach its college attainment goals and to provide Nevada’s STEM employers with a workforce that meets their needs,” said Brian Mitchell, Director of the Nevada Office of Science, Innovation and Technology.
Maybe the question isn’t “Why STEM now?” but, instead: “Why not STEM?”
Words of Wisdom
As a part of the STEM Student Voices Project, both Rowe and Moultrie were asked what advice they would offer to other young students interested in pursuing a STEM degree. Rowe, who found her calling by studying Chemistry, said: “there is no reason to stress about changing your major. I really thought [changing my major to Chemistry] was putting me behind [...] but it’s more important to pursue something you really care about, and that you can see yourself doing.”
Moultrie, who in addition to her academic work, co-coaches a 7th grade volleyball team and volunteers at the Humane Society and SPCA, said: “...stay motivated, [and] always seek help when you need it. Tutoring and talking to teachers helped me a lot with understanding content, especially when students don’t get one-on-one time during class. Lastly, having confidence you can reach your goal, hard work and perseverance should follow.”
For more information about degree programs housed in TMCC’s Sciences Division, contact the appropriate department.