A new initiative sponsored by the Philadelphia STEM Equity Collective and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will contribute $10 million over the next 10 years to help Black, Latinx, and all female-identifying students in the Philadelphia area pursue STEM careers.
According to a statement on the GSK website, the STEM Equity Collective will work closely with “schools, out-of-school time providers, universities and colleges, employers, local government, and the philanthropic community” to “identify and close gaps confronting children from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM.”
“At GSK, we believe that diversity helps to propel the innovation that can make our world better. But we know that for far too long, too many challenges have stood in the way of true inclusion of people of colour and women in STEM careers,” Maya Martinez-Davis, GSK President of U.S. Pharmaceuticals, says in the statement.
“The mission of the Philadelphia STEM Equity Collective is to overcome those challenges to benefit the children of Philadelphia, where GSK’s legacy spans nearly two centuries.”
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According to GSK, Philadelphia is America’s eighth-largest STEM industry hub.
It’s also a city that’s predominantly non-white. About 43 per cent of the population is Black, and 15 per cent is Hispanic or Latino.
But Black, Hispanic and Latino individuals remain underrepresented in STEM fields, accounting for roughly 11 per cent of science and engineering employees, despite making up 27 per cent of the overall U.S. workforce.
Female-identifying individuals of all races account for 50 per cent of the U.S. college-educated workforce but represent 28 per cent of the science and engineering workforce, according to GSK.
Part of the education gap is the result of schools lacking resources to fully engage students with STEM and limiting teacher access to professional development opportunities.
“It is up to us to clear the path for the next generation of nurses and doctors and scientists – for the next generation of the heroes who call Philadelphia home,” Martinez-Davis told reporters during a virtual press conference Wednesday.
“GSK’s investment will provide backbone support for collective action. It will enable partners to dig in and seek to surmount the barriers that stand in the way of students from all of the city’s neighbourhoods.”
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