Infocus: The tie between immigration and STEM

Virginia

FILE – In this undated file photo issued by the University of Oxford on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, a researcher in a laboratory at the Jenner Institute in Oxford, England, works on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. With major COVID-19 vaccines showing high levels of protection, British officials are cautiously — and they stress cautiously — optimistic that life may start returning to normal by early April. Even before regulators have approved a single vaccine, the U.K. and countries across Europe are moving quickly to organize the distribution and delivery systems needed to inoculate millions of citizens. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP, File)

ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM)–According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, immigrants account for more than half of all stem workers with PH.D.’s. In a 2015 study The American Immigration Council found that since 1990, the share of foreign-born workers in the STEM workforce has doubled.

“It’s a way for people to be innovative and really contribute in a variety of ways,” said Barbara Kanninen, Vice-chair of Arlington School Board.

Immigrants play a key role in contributing to STEM careers. Kanninen says it all starts with providing opportunities and fostering STEM education early on.

“The goal really is to be building those fundamental skills starting in Pre-k and in elementary and ensuring that students are good at math and understand the basics of science,” mentioned Kanninen.

Kanninen also says the school’s mission is to promote diversity while shaping STEM learning.

“We really want to encourage students from every type of background to take advantage and our goal as a public school system is to ensure we have diversity across all of those different opportunities,” said Kanninen.

As diversity in STEM continues to increase, community leaders like Arlington School Board member Tannia Talento say it’s more than just a statistic, immigrant leadership in STEM helps make the field beneficial for recipients of STEM services.

“If we want to really be leaders in the world in STEM in science, technology, engineering, and math and really lead the world in advancement then you really do need diverse perspectives because the world is not made up of one person,” said Talento.

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