NACME in the News

Minority Report: How Are Non-White Workers Faring In Westchester?

Minority Report: How Are Non-White Workers Faring In Westchester?

What is it like to be a minority in Westchester's business community?

 

Troubling Statistics for African Americans in STEM Careers

If you were to walk into any technology-driven enterprise in Westchester back in the 1970s, you would be hard-pressed to find one person of color among the ranks of engineers. That’s because minorities in the field of engineering were nearly nonexistent in Westchester 40 years ago—or anywhere in the US, according to Irving Pressley McPhail, EdD, of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) in White Plains. As NACME’s CEO, McPhail is focused on increasing the number of statistically underrepresented minority students earning degrees in engineering (minority students defined as African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and Native Americans/Alaskans; interestingly, Asian Americans are not considered an underrepresented minority in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields). NACME does this by providing scholarship money to a network of elite universities that then recruit, enroll, retain, educate, and graduate these students.

In 2013, the number of minorities entering the workforce with engineering credentials was an estimated 13.4 percent, according to McPhail. In spite of these gains, McPhail is concerned. “The problem is that underrepresented minority students make up a much larger percent of total population than 13.4 percent,” he says.
Perhaps of even greater concern is the fact that African Americans are not keeping pace with other minority groups with respect to gains in engineering. In 2013, 9 percent of the total number of engineering degrees awarded to minorities went to Hispanic students, while 3.2 percent went to African Americans and 1.2 to Native Americans and Native Alaskans.  
As an African American himself, McPhail says, “I believe there is a real crisis in the African-American community across the board…and in what’s happening in our schools. There are far too few of our young people who understand engineering and how exciting STEM careers are... We have to stay focused on this issue; if we don’t, we [the global technology-driven firms] run the risk of losing our competitive edge in STEM.”

Hispanic Businesses Becoming More Mainstream

Fannie Aleman, president of the Westchester Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in White Plains, says there’s a major cultural change happening within Westchester’s Hispanic business community. “We are evolving, remaining true to our roots, while still becoming part of mainstream America—breaking free of traditional thinking and becoming more strategic,” she says.

Aleman also explains that the strong growth in Hispanic and Latino businesses in Westchester can be attributed, in part, to these business owners making a shift into less-traditional business arenas. “Today, more Hispanic business owners are looking to open a business in high-growth industries and where they can fill a market need,” she explains. In another break from tradition, she notes, “We are pushing to have more women break into industries like STEM and construction that were traditionally dominated by men.”
Aleman suggests that the biggest challenges facing Hispanic and Latino business owners in Westchester are not actually unique to Latino-owned businesses. “The biggest challenges are associated with licensing and regulations because many small business owners don’t have the time to navigate confusing websites, paperwork, et cetera. But I think this is true for all small business owners—not just Latinos and not just minorities,” she says. Read more.

 

Dr. McPhail on ABC News' Here and Now

Click image to see video

ABC News HereAndNow

Here's how P&G plans to get more underrepresented minorities into STEM jobs


Here's how P&G plans to get more underrepresented minorities into STEM jobs

Jun 4, 2015, 10:08am EDT UPDATED: Jun 5, 2015, 6:17am EDT
 
 
Courier Intern- Cincinnati Business Courier

Procter & Gamble Co. is bringing the underrepresentation of minorities in high-tech industries to the forefront of a national conversation.

The Cincinnati-based consumer goods manufacturer (NYSE: PG) and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) partnered to host a panel discussion on strategies to combat the underrepresentation of certain minority groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields on Wednesday.

The discussion, held at P&G’s downtown headquarters, featured a panel of seven experts, two of them current or former P&G leaders, as well as keynote speaker and NACME president Dr. Irving McPhail.

The conversation focused on a big problem facing corporate America: In a competitive global market where technology and innovation are key, the demand for STEM jobs is steadily rising, but supply is not keeping up. America needs students to choose STEM careers, and there is much untapped talent among black, Native American and Latino students who often do not have equal access to STEM-promoting programs.

For P&G, recruiting a skilled and diverse workforce is paramount. P&G senior vice president of research and design William Gipson said in addition being a world leader in marketing and production, the company is a leader in innovation.

“The reason we innovate is the breadth of the backgrounds of the scientists and engineers we work with,” Gipson said.

This commitment to diversity is not reflected in the makeup of STEM jobs nationwide. Ninety percent of engineering positions in 2014 were held by white workers, according to McPhail.

P&G vice president of research and design Lourdes Albacarys said although P&G aims to hire a workforce that is representative of a diverse consumer base, the number of black and Hispanic graduates for hire gets smaller every year.

Meanwhile, STEM positions in the region are growing at twice the rate of other positions. Eighty percent of the region's jobs in the next 10 years will require math and science skills.

To combat this problem, P&G invests in initiatives like the company’s Resident Scholar program that familiarize students with STEM career options and connect them with mentors.

“The more we can demystify these careers for the students, the more powerful that connection (to STEM) is,” said Dr. Andrea Bowens-Jones, director of the Resident Scholar program and P&G research and design section head.

Albacarys encouraged parents to get involved as well by enouraging their children to choose STEM-based electives instead of arts electives like choir.

“If we don’t encourage them, they may choose the easier option and never see how much fun (STEM education) can be,” she said.

Panelist Robert Setlock took a slightly different approach. Setlock is the director of Miami University’s Project High Flight, a program that allows students of diverse backgrounds to come together and think creatively about scientific problems.

“I think the real problem is that divergent thinking is not really appreciated or valued,” he said. “The creative aspect of the human soul is what drives everything. If you try too hard to conform to any system, that’s going to compromise your soul.”

 

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