AUTHOR
Shweta Karikehalli
Shweta Karikehalli
PUBLISHED
March 01, 2019
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11 Professional Organizations That Support People of Color in STEM

Get familiar with these important organizations.

11 Professional Organizations That Support People of Color in STEM

Science, technology, engineering, and math fields are crucial to keeping our world functioning. They’re the basis for developing life-saving drugs and treatments, developing the software programs we depend on every day, solving environmental problems, and much more. However, there’s a large gap between the number of STEM jobs needing to be filled and people available to do them. The United States Department of Labor predicted that nearing 2020, 2.4 million STEM jobs would go unfulfilled, and the demand for qualified candidates to fill these roles is only going to grow. Despite the demand, people of color are vastly underrepresented in these fields. According to data on race and ethnic representation in STEM occupations from Pew Research Center, only 9 percent of STEM workers are Black and 7 percent are Hispanic. Other national data shows that in 2010, American Indians/Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders each made up only 0.2 percent of the STEM workforce.


To help close the racial/ethnic gap in STEM, a number of professional organizations exist to support people of color in STEM fields through networking, career development, scholarships, and more. With the high demand for STEM talent, employers should utilize every resource available to find promising candidates, including professional organizations. We’ve rounded up 11 professional organizations for people of color in STEM that should be on the radar of every employer working to create a diverse pipeline of talent – read on for the full list.



National Society of Black Engineers (NBSE)

Type: Professional, collegiate, pre-collegiate

Reach: National


The National Society of Black Engineers is a non-profit that supports Black professionals, college (including graduate students) and pre-college (grades 3-12) students in engineering and technology fields. Founded in 1975 at Purdue University, NSBE comprises more than 500 chapters in six geographic regions. Members of NSBE can expect access to a network of diverse engineers and scientists, scholarships, job placements, access to career fairs, and more. Members of this organization go on to enjoy success in their fields; in 2018, a 12-year-old NBSE member graduated from college and is now pursuing a master’s degree in sustainable science and environmental planning.  


Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)

Type: Collegiate, professional

Reach: National


SACNAS’s goal is to advance the success of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in securing advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in STEM fields. It comprises 150 chapters nationwide and interested members may even submit an application to start their own chapter. Members have gone on to leadership positions in prominent science organizations, such as Dr. Luis Echegoyen who was recently named president-elect of American Chemical Society.


SACNAS is also known for holding the largest multidisciplinary and multicultural STEM diversity event in the country, which will be held in Honolulu, Hawaii from October 31-November 2, 2019.


American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)

Type: Professional, collegiate, pre-collegiate

Reach: National


With a membership of 4,600 members that’s rapidly expanding, AISES is affiliated with 189 chartered college and university chapters, 15 professional chapters, and 158 K-12 schools that support students in STEM. AISES has awarded over $11 million in academic scholarships to American Indian students pursuing STEM fields. Additionally, AISES’s Council of Elders, composed of American Indian professionals from different nations, tribes, and bands across the United States, offers wisdom and advice to the next generation of AISES students.


Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (Latinos in Science and Engineering)

Type: Professional, collegiate, pre-collegiate

Reach: National


Founded in Los Angeles in 1974, MAES is a nonprofit organization that seeks to bolster the number of Mexican Americans and other Hispanics in technical and scientific fields. It recognizes the importance of these fields for economic advancement and workforce development and MAES’s inclusive career center job board benefits both jobseekers and employers. Scholarships, honors recognition, mentorship opportunities, and STEM enrichment programs for kids are also available and MAES’s leadership team is volunteer-based, ensuring young people won’t feel intimidated to ask for guidance.


Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)

Type: Professional, collegiate, pre-collegiate

Reach: National


SHPE supports STEM awareness, action, support, and professional development for Hispanic children, undergraduate and graduate students, and academic and industry professionals. The organization’s mission, per its website, is “A world where Hispanics are highly valued and influential as the leading innovators, scientists, mathematicians and engineers.” SHPE’s career center serves more than 36,000 members and is associated with 178 student and 54 professional chapters. SHPE offers generous scholarships: for the 2018-2019 year, SHPE awarded more than $340,000 in scholarships, an amount they plan on increasing.


Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE)

Type: Professional, collegiate

Reach: National


Inspired by other affinity groups such as SHPE and NSBE, SASE was formed in 2007 to fulfill a need for similar support and connections for all the pan Asian cultures, per their website. Members of SASE’s professional network benefit from professional and leadership development on topics such as moving from middle to upper management, and networking opportunities. Students can attend a host of professional development events where they can build soft skills and attend conferences and panels. In addition to being a professional resource, SASE also places high importance on cultural diversity, holding cultural celebrations and providing diversity training for corporations.


Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP)

Type: Professional, collegiate, pre-collegiate

Reach: National


AAIP aims to recruit and mentor American Indian/Alaska Native college students into medicine and other health professions. A Pre-Admission Workshop (PAW) is held during AAIP’s Annual Meeting & National Health Conference, where AAIP member physicians, American Indian/Alaska Native college students, traditional healers, public health employees, and other interested individuals, gather to network and discuss the current state of Native health and education. AAIP awards scholarships to college students to cover the costs of travel, lodging, registration, and food for PAW.


National Association of Mathematicians (NAM)

Type: Professional

Reach: National


NAM celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019 and aims to “promote the mathematical development of all underrepresented minorities” and to support teaching and curriculum enhancement in the mathematical sciences, especially at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Institutions. NAM offers services such as lectures, seminars, conferences, and festivals geared toward underrepresented groups at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, the largest gathering of mathematicians in the world. The nonprofit organization also promotes professional development of practicing mathematical scientists and educators, especially groups that are underrepresented in the mathematical sciences.


College Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP)

Type: Collegiate

Reach: Regional (New York State)


CSTEP is an initiative by the New York State Department of Education to increase the number of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students enrolling in college or graduate school with the purpose of having careers in STEM fields. The program offers academic enrichment, internship opportunities, and research experience in areas of science, math, or technology. CSTEP also offers supervised training in research methods, preparation for graduate or professional school admissions, standardized test preparation and career development activities yearlong. CSTEP scholars go on to become state biologists, medical professionals, pharmacists, nurses, and more, and they also gain a network of professionals of color.   


National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME)

Type: Collegiate

Reach: National


NACME is the largest provider of scholarships to underrepresented minorities pursuing degrees at engineering schools. The organization partners with like-minded entities such as Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement, Princeton Review, National Academy Foundation, and more to provide resources and opportunities for these underrepresented groups. NACME also partners with more than 50 colleges and universities across the country, including Cornell University, New York University, University of California-San Diego, Texas A&M University, and Georgia Institute of Technology. Scholarships have provided opportunities for students to partake in leadership positions at NASA, BlackBerry, Rolls-Royce, AT&T, and more.



There are many professional organizations that support people of color interested in STEM careers or current professionals in different ways, and these are just a few of them. In addition to being important professional resources for the groups they serve, these organizations can be a great source of diverse talent for the employers that connect with them.



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