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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 3, 2014 at 6:05 AM

STEM education: ‘Myth’ of STEM shortages discourages those pursuing a STEM careers

What is needed for STEM in Seattle is for the city and its citizens to insist that we focus first on nurturing and developing the interests and enthusiasm of our own kids in STEM [“What keeps girls from studying physics and STEM,” Opinion, Sept. 14]. At the same time, we need policies designed to eliminate congestion-induced bottlenecks that might otherwise impede educational and career pathways of our country’s own STEM workforce.

We need to stop propagating the myth that there is a shortage of STEM talent. This myth shortens the careers of Americans who have chosen STEM careers. Each time Boeing and Microsoft have massive STEM layoffs, local youths become painfully and personally aware of the fact that the long-term career outlook subsequent to the acquisition of STEM degrees is not nearly so rosy as some describe.

As long as STEM-shortage myths continue to mislead the American public into supporting STEM visas, our country’s brightest and hardest-working youths will continue to be discouraged from applying themselves to the pursuit of STEM careers.

Proposals that green cards be “stapled” to STEM degrees further frustrate the efforts of our youths who do choose STEM. Already in Seattle, we have a shortage of affordable, world-class educational opportunities for our young adults interested in positioning themselves for the region’s top computer-science jobs. As the international demand for seats in American and Washington-state based STEM educational programs increases, this existing congestion in the pipeline for our own youths into the country’s top jobs will worsen, further discouraging our youths from choosing to apply themselves seriously to STEM subjects in the lower grades.

What is needed both in Seattle and nationally is the sustainable STEM culture required to provide us with the workforce we need in the 21st century and beyond.

Ruth Ann Mullen, Seattle

Comments | More in Education | Topics: Boeing, H-1B visas, Microsoft

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