In December 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau released its newest population projections with the prediction that the United States will become a “majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043.” What this means is that the nation will comprise of a very diverse society that no one racial/ethnic group will be considered a “majority”. Currently, only 37 percent of the population are considered as people of color. Even though the non-Latino white population will remain as the largest single group, all other groups (people of color and mixed-identified individuals) would “comprise 57 percent of the population” by 2060. With such a historical shift in the face of society, how can America prepare itself in serving a more diverse population?
One can only imagine the vast repercussions of this increased demand for diversity in healthcare, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) research. If more than half of the population are people of color, then it makes sense to have a workforce that can reflect that as well. Aside from face value reflection, diverse communities may be more likely to participate in public health initiatives if their public health officials, health professionals, and research scientists shared their similar experiences and socio-cultural values. For example, after many unethical research fiascos such as the Tuskegee Experiment and the illegal culture of Henrietta Lacks’ cancer cells, ethnic communities tend to be more reluctant to sign up for research studies, despite more regulation of ethical practices in human studies. Having more African-American scientists may help attract more community participants to research studies, which can help address health disparities and disease burden in their own neighborhoods. The more people the scientific community can reach, the more knowledge we can obtain and the more solutions we can provide to the well-being of the public.
In addition to a more culturally diverse scientific enterprise, I would like to advocate for more gender diversity as well. The more varied cultural, socio-economic, and gender backgrounds are represented, the more different ideas physicians and scientists can contribute from their unique upbringings and experiences. Science cannot progress to its full potential if innovation is driven from the same homogenous pool of minds. If the scientific enterprise encourages more young girls to pursue computer science, then a woman may build an even more innovative company than Apple. The possibilities are unlimited. But we will not know how much technology will advance until we open the doors and give more women and people of color the opportunity to play in the court of scientific research.
Hence, in support of increasing efforts to encourage, recruit, train, and develop more cultural and gender diversity in STEM fields, I present Science 2043–an online project that profiles current and future scientists, engineers, health professionals, and mathematicians who are working hard to pursue their dreams and reflect a more diverse scientific America. I compile personal tidbits about my friends, acquaintances, and colleagues who are breaking new social and scientific grounds. I salute all of them for their bravery and dedication. Behold, the face and the future of America, Science 2043!
If you or someone you know would like to be featured in the Science 2043 page, please contact me at email@example.com or on Twitter (@melofunkademic1). I will keep updating the profiles in the page called “Science 2043.” Thanks!
- Henrietta Lacks formally recognised as source of HeLa research cells (theguardian.com)