STEM 2.14 Text Alternative


Graphic: A young woman in work suspenders, a yellow safety hat, and electrical safety gloves. She is guiding a wire within a wall.

Hi! My name is Ashley, and I am an electrician. I work with alternative power generation, such as solar and wind, linking these sources to homes and power grids. It is rewarding to know that I am contributing to greener energy for our world, but the work I do isn’t that much different than your local electrician.

A typical day for me involves reading blueprints, which are technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. I also use different types of hand and power tools. While troubleshooting, I use ammeters, voltmeters, and multimeters to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

I learned my trade through an apprenticeship program that I began immediately after graduating high school, which included technical training and paid on-the-job training.

Because homes and businesses need more wiring than ever before, the job growth for electricians is projected to be faster than the average job growth in the coming decade.

One of the most important skills for my job is critical thinking because I must perform tests and use the results to diagnose and troubleshoot problems. My job requires that I understand and can apply electrical theory and mathematics for blueprint reading and for adhering to electrical code requirements. During my training, I was able to build on the STEM skills and knowledge I gained in high school. Customer service is also very important, which is great because I love working with people. The pay is pretty great, too! The median annual wage of electricians as of 2010 was $48,250.

I really enjoy being an electrician, but it would be incredible if we could encourage more women to pursue a career like mine.

Did you know that only 2.2% of electricians are women? This is a fun and challenging career that would be a great choice for anyone who likes working with his or her hands to create systems that make our world run!

2-year Degree

Graphic: A man in a suit and tie sitting in a wheelchair.

Hello, my name is Arthur and I am a nuclear technician. I assist physicists, engineers, and other professionals in nuclear research and nuclear production.

A typical day for me involves operating special equipment used in these activities and monitoring the levels of radiation that are produced.

Before beginning my career, I earned an associate’s degree in nuclear science, and then went through extensive on-the-job training.

Because of the increased demand for nuclear energy, my field has grown and the job outlook remains strong.

Important skills for my job include critical thinking, listening, and math skills. I receive complex instructions from scientists and engineers, use formulas to analyze data, and carefully evaluate a lot of information before deciding on a course of action. These skills are rewarded. As of 2010, the median annual wage of nuclear technicians was $68,090!

I enjoy my job because I like solving technically challenging problems and working with people and teams. Most importantly, my job is rewarding because I know that I help keep people safe by monitoring radiation levels and ensuring the nuclear equipment runs efficiently and without issue.

This is a great career for me, and I wish more people realized the opportunities. Did you know that although Blacks or African Americans represent 12.2% of the U.S. population, we hold only 4.6% of all science and engineering (S&E) jobs?

In addition, persons with disabilities represent 20% of the workforce but only 6% of the S&E workforce. I am so grateful that my teachers encouraged me to pursue this path, despite being in two populations that are significantly underrepresented in S&E.

4-year Degree

Graphic: A young woman working at a computer workstation.

Hello, my name is Sofia. I am a computer systems analyst at a hospital. My job is to study the current computer systems and procedures and make recommendations to management to help the hospital operate more efficiently and effectively.

I spend my time researching emerging technologies, analyzing costs and benefits, designing and developing new systems, and then installing and testing systems. It is rewarding to know that my work helps hospitals run better, meaning more time for the health professionals to help people.

I began my career with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. As electives, I took some business courses as well as health management courses to help me as an analyst for a hospital, but they weren’t necessary. That knowledge just gives me an edge.

The qualities that are important for my job are analytical and communication skills, as well as being creative and good at working in teams. I love being tasked with finding innovative solutions to computer problems and getting to “think outside the box.”

The job outlook for computer systems analysts is very strong, with faster than average growth projected over the next decade. After all, as organizations across the economy increase their reliance on Information Technology, workers in this occupation will be hired to design and install new computer systems. And with all of the potential for work, we are paid well, too. The median annual wage of computer systems analysts was $77,740 as of 2010.

As a Hispanic female computer systems analyst, I haven’t met many others like me in this field. If you look at my broader discipline, Hispanic or Latinos represent only 5% of computer and information scientists, when we represent 16% of the U.S. population. Women represent only 23% of the computer and information scientist workforce, and Hispanic or Latina women represent only a dismal 1.3%.

What an incredible career and pathway this has been for me. I wish others could see that and then choose this career, too.

Master’s Degree

Graphic: A young man in a business suit wearing a white safety hat.

Hi, I’m Maska. I am a hydrologist. I study water and the water cycle to solve problems in the areas of water quality or availability.

It is my job to apply research findings to help minimize the environmental impacts of pollution, erosion, and other problems. I research ways to improve water conservation and preservation, and use computer models to forecast future water supplies, the spread of pollution, and other events. It is rewarding to contribute to preserving and protecting our most important natural resource.

I earned a master’s degree in environmental science with a concentration in hydrology, and my coursework included math, statistics, and physical, computer, and life sciences.

Analytical skills and critical thinking skills are key in my job. Hydrologists need to analyze data collected in the field and then examine the results, and we must assess risks posed to the water supply. Writing skills are imperative because we prepare detailed reports documenting our research methods and findings.

Population growth and environmental concerns, especially global climate change, are expected to increase demand for hydrologists in the future. The work is rewarding, and the pay is good, too. The median annual wage for hydrologists was $75,690 as of 2010.

Despite the demand and the pay, there is a great disparity of participation within science and engineering disciplines. For example, American Indian and Alaska Natives represent 1.2% of the population, yet only 0.03% of employed scientists and engineers.

Thanks to a professor at community college, I was encouraged to pursue advanced degrees in a science discipline. This is a great career for me, and I want more American Indians, like myself, to pursue a career in STEM, too.


Graphic: A young woman dressed in a professional business suit leaning on an ornate support column.

Hello, I’m Gwen. I am a petroleum engineer, and I design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the earth’s surface.

Oil is one of our primary sources of energy, and because it is found deep within the earth, we must study the geological formations and properties of the rock containing the reservoir, determine drilling methods for extraction, and monitor the drilling and production operation. After all, oil drives the world’s economy and is an extremely important commodity.

While working on my bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering, I interned for several semesters at a large company. I really liked the work and decided to stay in school to earn a Ph.D. so that I could be a university professor someday; although, most all of my colleagues have bachelor’s degrees. So, right now, I am working in industry conducting research, and I plan to transition to academia in a few years.

Important qualities for me as a petroleum engineer are analytical and math skills, creativity, teamwork, and a passion for problem solving.

Fortunately, the job outlook for petroleum engineers continues to be strong, and the median annual wage in 2010 for petroleum engineers was $114,080. We are one of the highest paid professions.

Despite that significant extrinsic reward, women and blacks are significantly underrepresented in engineering. Women represent 12.7%, and Blacks and African Americans represent 3.5% of the engineering workforce. The numbers for black females in academia are more dismal, as only 1% of engineering professors are black females.

I really enjoy my work in industry, but I can’t wait to be a professor so that I can directly work with students. I want to show other females and students from underrepresented groups that they too can achieve great things with a career in STEM.


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