The American Chemical Society (ACS) has designated October 21 – 27 as National Chemistry Week, and this year’s theme is “The Many Faces of Chemistry.

Given the importance of the contributions chemistry makes to our everyday lives and the health and vitality of our economy, it is critical we focus on our contributions to chemistry.  And, if you look closely, we are coming up short in our support in our support of chemistry and other STEM fields.

The best way to ensure the vibrant practice of STEM in America is provide the fields with large numbers of expert workers.  A look at the numbers shows us that we are failing to do that in one important way and on track to do even worse if we do not take corrective action soon:  In 2000, only 4.4 percent of the science and engineering jobs were held by African-Americans and only 3.4 percent by Hispanics.  Only about one-quarter of those jobs are held by women.  Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Census, 39 percent of the population under the age of 18 is a racial or ethnic minority and that percentage is on a path to pass 50 percent by the year 2050, and women make up over half of college students.

More and more of our population is going to be made up of groups that are currently under-represented in the STEM fields.  We need to reverse this trend and fast, and we need to do it by expanding and focusing our investment in STEM in under-represented groups.  We can only increase STEM excellence by increasing STEM opportunity.

If we are to remain an innovative and economically competitive nation, the face of our high-tech work force must reflect the true face of America.  Our workforce will not be the best America has to offer if we do not ensure that we are taking advantage of all pools of domestic talent.  “The Many Faces of Chemistry