An opportunity exists for those of us in the plastics industry, if we choose to step up to the challenge. While it's something that may be outside the realm of our immediate business concerns, it is also something that potentially could have a major impact on our businesses individually and on our industry as a whole.
Since the publication of ``A Nation At Risk'' in 1983, numerous national reports and commissions have documented the problems in American science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM education, including its continuing inability to attract and retain female and minority student interest in STEM subjects, and consequently, careers.
Developing this talent pool of underrepresented students takes on even greater urgency in light of shifting demographics. In the very near future, as a good portion of our STEM workforce retires and the minority population continues to grow at a rate that far exceeds that of the majority population, we will rely increasingly on this talent pool to make the discoveries, advances and innovations that have and continue to keep the United States the world's scientific and technological leader.
As a company that has long accepted its corporate responsibility in the arena of strengthening science education, we know firsthand that effective, exemplary STEM education programs exist and that businesses can engage successfully in education partnerships that help grow these programs, if they possess the necessary commitment and will.
And, it seems, many companies do. According to our own recent Bayer Facts of Science Education survey, many CEOs of some of the fastest-growing science and technology companies acknowledge their responsibility to help improve STEM education, with many saying they want to get involved supporting such programs.
In an effort to help these companies, Bayer has undertaken a number of STEM education diversity initiatives over the last year as part of our national award-winning corporate social responsibility program, Making Science Make Sense.
Recently, Bayer hosted a forum designed to continue fostering the development of our female and minority talent pool by presenting to other science and technology companies successful STEM education programs, for kindergarten to 12th grade, that they may wish to support and/or replicate in their local communities. These programs, including our own Asset Inc., and Biotech Partners, have a proven track record of closing achievement gaps between minority and majority students and helping girls, African-American, Hispanic American and Native American students achieve in STEM.
Out of the forum have come two important resources, both available at www.bayerus.com. The first is a companion guide titled ``Planting the Seeds for a Diverse U.S. STEM Pipeline: A Compendium of Best Practice K-12 STEM Education Programs.'' It features 21 best-practice K-12 programs, including the 14 showcased at the forum, as well as other resources to help companies forge their own partnerships.
The second is a report that highlights the most significant findings that emerged during the forum. For businesses, in particular, there is significant insight into what they can expect from such a partnership, as well as useful tips, such as picking the right partner, evaluating return on investment, identifying the win-win for both partners, and so forth.
By making these resources widely available to our colleagues and competitors, we are continuing the work we began with the forum. We need to come to together, as companies, as industries and as a country to help these and other exemplary STEM education programs scale up to reach more and more students. For the U.S., diversity is a key natural resource and perhaps our greatest strength. In the 21st century, for social, moral, economic and security reasons, it cannot and must not be ignored.
Greg Babe is president and chief executive officer of Bayer MaterialScience LLC.