Let go of your STEM superiority complex – The Daily Utah Chronicle

the ubiquitous STEM against the humanities and the liberal arts debate makes for a less than memorable college experience for many. Although both STEM and non-STEM disciplines will prove essential in the workforce, STEM receives exorbitant funding.

The Biden-Harris administration recently committed $1.38 billion to STEM education in 2023. But given that STEM represented only 23% of the US labor force in 2019, a disproportionate funding sends an inauspicious message about the perceived value of other professions.

STEM has also historically excluded marginalized communities. The American Education Research Association observes that “STEM education and professions have been designed to appeal to heterosexual, able-bodied, Christian or atheist, and middle-class or upper-class white men.”

A culture that values ​​STEM above all other educational disciplines and professions fuels institutional racism, perpetuates misogyny, and devalues ​​working-class work.

Institutional racism

Despite its reputation as objective, the roots of STEM lie in racism. Discriminatory norms and practices persist as we fight to dismantle the violent ideologies that remain imprinted in our textbooks. That’s not to say that non-STEM fields aren’t racist – early philosophers like Aristotle supported slavery, saying slaves “did not have the intellectual capacity to govern themselves”.

But these fields criticize and contradict the discriminatory beliefs of their personalities. Fields like gender studies can recognize Betty Friedan for her impact on reproductive rights and “The Feminine Mystique,” ​​while criticizing her racism, homophobia, and trans-exclusive radical feminism.

Art and writing serve as tools for racial equity as they praise those who challenge the status quo. Non-STEM fields do not receive billions from the federal government or are not targeted for military use.

Holding STEM fields above others creates a culture of exclusion that prevents marginalized workers from entering well-paying fields. The focus on academia and STEM creates a norm known as the Achievement Gap that creates “an association between students of color and low achievement, which can fuel racist stereotypes about these students and their communities” .

The false implication that survival in STEM is based on intelligence ignores the impact of ethnic and racial discrimination in higher education. Armament Meritocracy against those who succeed in STEM, especially Model Minority Myth not only harms the Asian American community, but promotes discrimination against other minority ethnic and racial groups. People of color, particularly black students in non-STEM fields, report lower levels of discrimination, with black women reporting higher levels of academic satisfaction.

When we place on a pedestal the areas that sustain racism, we simultaneously allow other forms of discrimination to persist.

Perpetuate misogyny

In 2019, women received approximately 62% of degrees awarded in liberal arts and humanities. This data excludes trans experiences, but it establishes that women make up the majority of non-STEM majors.

When women come to STEM, they have to fight against misogyny. Still, women make up 34% of STEM occupations in the United States, despite making up over 46.7% of the workforce.. They remain undervalued in STEM.

By downplaying the importance of non-STEM professions, we downplay the importance of women’s education and work. Work is not limited to paid careers, with women performing more than two and a half times as much unpaid domestic work as men. The ambitions and work of women are essential to the functioning of the economy and of American households. We harm ourselves by devaluing non-STEM fields and subsequently, devaluing women.

Devalue labor

STEM professions account for less than a quarter of the US labor force while inflated job values ​​leave the working class behind. STEM fields provide some of the highest paying jobs for the American workforce. But working-class jobs, staffed by laborers without college degrees, barely pay a living wage. Workers of color constitute a growing sector of the working class, especially black and Latinx workers.

The devaluation of working class labor undermines the skills of workers and prevents them from obtaining higher wages and better benefits. Working class jobs do not enjoy the same benefits as STEM jobs. While tech workers receive free food and paid parental leave on top of high wages, working-class employees are fighting union-busting actions to access decent wages. And with the rising cost of a college education, it’s becoming harder for the working class to get the education needed to get STEM jobs and benefits.

My family and I have been working class all our lives, and that only changed recently. As someone with a STEM career, liberal arts connections, and working class experience myself, I have witnessed the effects of the STEM superiority complex of my tech peers. I urge everyone to recognize the value of other areas. To make real progress, we must stop assuming the superiority of a discipline that actively contributes to systemic oppression.

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@iGabyTorres

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