“The world is full of opportunities — every day there’s something new that you can do. For example, you could make dirty water potable. Why does anyone not have potable water? Because it’s a problem that hasn’t been solved yet, but it can be.
Working on telephone lines — you don’t need a Ph.D. to do it, but you need to be able to read, discern, analyze problems. We are structurally creating an underclass that will be hard to fix. If we don’t have people who can create value, they will be servers forever. This is not an insurmountable problem. If you get kids when they’re young from just about any background, you can create people who are capable of utilizing science, technology, math, and engineering to solve problems.
If you look at the list of the top nations and try to find out where we are in reading, math, and any science, it is stunning. I don’t look at the list anymore because it’s an embarrassment. We are the best nation in the world. We created the Internet and little iPods and copying and printing machines and MRI devices and artificial hearts. That’s all science and engineering. Who’s going to create those things?“
–Ursula Burns on the state of education in the United States.
Marilyn Curtain-Phillips is a dedicated high school mathematics teacher, an effective facilitator/speaker and an accomplished author, who has a passion for helping students overcome their math anxieties. Marilyn has published the book “MATH ATTACK: How To Reduce Math Anxiety In The Classroom, At Work And In Everyday Personal Use”, published various articles, and created the playing card game MATH ATTACK, which was designed to improve mental math skills.
Mariyln sits down with BWLW to share her experiences in publication, her opinions on education and the role of parents, and why more black women should consider studying mathematics in this edition of Black Women in the Global Village.
“The biggest challenge we all face is to learn about ourselves and to understand our strengths and weaknesses. We need to utilize our strengths, but not so much that we don’t work on our weaknesses. Weaknesses are not just, “Oh, I’m not good in this subject.” Your weaknesses might also include impatience or even trying too hard. You might have to learn when to let go, or when to keep going. The biggest challenge is to overcome the things in yourself that keep you from moving forward. When you do that, then dealing with challenges outside yourself becomes easier.
In college, very often I was the only African-American woman in many of my classes and work environments. There hadn’t been many African-American women in some of the schools I attended — in engineering, for example. So, at NASA I felt fine because I’m used to working with other people, and I’m comfortable with myself. It would be nice — and I think it will be nice — to have more and more people of all kinds involved with space exploration.“
–Mae Carol Jemison an American physician and now retired NASA astronaut who became the first black woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992.
In the next seven years, more than a million jobs will open up that require specialized technology skills, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But there won’t be enough qualified college graduates to fill them. Are we doing enough to get kids interested in math and science?
Engineering and technology dominate the highest-paid majors in 2011, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, Bethlehem PA.
Chemical engineering majors are at the top, with an average salary offer of $66,886. Computer science majors are at #2, with an average offer of $63,017. Information sciences majors were offered an average $56,868.