Democratize STEM Now!

Democratize STEM Now! – Professor Cordero’s Mission to Empower Women and Minorities in STEM

Numerade’s mission is to empower students of all backgrounds with the best educators and technology to master STEM and change the system from the inside out – opening doors for the disadvantaged. Deeply ingrained in our DNA is the belief that the world’s most significant problems will be solved by providing every student equal access to elite education in STEM.  

Thankfully, thousands of heroes in STEM share our mission and have overcome barriers to bring forth change. In Numerade’s “Democratize STEM now!” blog series, we highlight these leaders to inspire, support, and instruct the next generation of STEM professionals on how they too can have a lasting impact. 

This week our spotlight is on Minerva Cordero, a Professor of Mathematics and Senior Associate Dean of the College of Science at the University of Texas at Arlington. Professor Cordero is an advocate and ambassador for women and minorities in STEM.

In the United States, women account for only 27% of all STEM professionals despite representing nearly 50% of the entire workforce. The ratio is even bleaker when comparing the 7% percent of all workers who are Latina women to their paltry 2% representation in STEM. Professor Cordero knows these numbers all too well and is fighting for a change. 

Born in Puerto Rico, Minerva was the first member of her family to go to college, earning a degree at the University of Puerto Rico. She then went on to earn a master’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate at the University of Iowa.  

The professor’s journey to success faced many obstacles. As a trailblazer, she had to overcome the challenges of public schooling in Puerto Rico, the cost of obtaining higher-level degrees from mainland U.S. institutions, and limited representation in the classroom and profession as a whole.  

Through perseverance and good fortune, she overcame these systemic barriers in a way few can. Understanding that if she earned a position of power in STEM, she could then work to level the obstacles that stood in the path of rising minority and female mathematicians. A calling she does not take lightly.

One of her core beliefs is that:

“At the end of the day, if the U.S. wants to retain its world leadership, we have to attract Hispanics and women to science, to engineering.”

With her hard-won position of power at the University of Texas at Arlington, professor Cordero is an undeniable force for change, pushing through policies that have made inclusion central to their STEM departments’ operating principles. 

After inspiring thousands and mentoring dozens of future Hispanic and women STEM leaders, Cordero was recognized by ‘The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Lyda Hill Philanthropies’ by being named an official STEM ambassador in 2019. This has only given more credibility to her already powerful voice in the STEM community.

Why it matters

Diversity in STEM is not embraced accidentally. It requires representation in leadership that will take action on behalf of those left behind by the system. The more underrepresented and underestimated students that obtain a place of influence in STEM, the more likely others will be to follow. That is why professor Cordero’s story matters.

Need help with STEM yourself? See how Numerade is supporting students of all backgrounds by providing access to the top 1% of educators here.

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