Arizona’s Rising STEM Occupational Demands and Declining Participation in the Scientific Workforce: An Examination of Attitudes among African Americans toward STEM College Majors and Careers

Jackson, Jerlando F. L.
Charleston, LaVar J.
Lewis, Chance W.
Gilbert, Juan E.
Parrish, Walter P. III
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Texas Education Review

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2008), science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) occupations constitute a growing sector of Arizona’s economy. However, the number of African Americans earning degrees related to these occupations has not kept pace with this growth. Increasing the participation of African Americans in STEM education fields and subsequent related occupations in Arizona is vital to growing and maintaining the state’s economic stature. This objective is made even more compelling given that each year, from 2008– 2018, there are 3,671 projected job openings in STEM fields in Arizona. This study explores the extent to which the attitudes held by African Americans in Arizona toward STEM related majors and careers influence their likelihood of joining the state’s scientific workforce. Our analyses reveal the importance of career consideration, confidence in one’s ability to be successful in a STEM related field, and family support of the pursuit of STEM education and careers.