Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Minor changes in college majors over the past 40 years and immigration reform; how are they connected?

This is a fun data visualization I came across on NPR, but you have to really look at the percentages on the interactive version to get the clear picture of how much things have changed over the past 40 years.


One thing is clear from this snapshot though: Education majors have declined considerably since 1970. Over the same period, there was an increase in majors for the health professions, no doubt correlating with greater opportunities as baby boomers age. Business majors also saw an increase. Sadly, math, engineering, and computer science majors still constitute a pretty small piece of the pie, which is why immigrants are responsible for about half the startups in Silicon Valley, and why Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley heavy-hitters were putting their money behind immigration reform in 2013 (@FWD_us). For Silicon Valley, immigration reform is really a recruiting strategy to bring science, technology, engineering, and math talent to the U.S.
Other leaders in Silicon Valley are focusing on education reform and also trying to make computer science education more exciting and accessible. There are now several online schools that cover everything from how toprogram a robotic car to learning to code Ruby on Rails the zombie way—and all for free (well, now Udacity is charging $150 a month for access to its more advanced courses, so if you want to program the next Google car, you’ll have to pony up some cash).
All that to say, it’s clear the U.S. could use some more kids interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) degrees if we’re going to stay innovative in the future. We could also use a boost in the agriculture and chemistry fields if we want to continue eating for the next 40 years, although I just heard McDonald’s is moving to lab-created chicken for its McNuggets… to that I say, weren’t they already some sort of lab creation?

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