Losing the Precious Few: How America Fails to Educate its Minorities in Science and Engineering


Eye-opening book advocates for change while revealing issues that
keep domestic minority students out of STEM education.

by Richard Tapia

ISBN:  978-1-55885-942-5
Publication Date:  April 30, 2022
Format:  Trade Paperback
Pages:  314

Look Inside


A professor for almost 50 years in Rice University’s Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics, nationally acclaimed scholar Richard Tapia is struck by the number of Chinese students in the hallways and wonders how the United States can remain globally competitive.

Tapia asserts it is critical to the nation’s health and well-being to improve the representation of “the precious few,” or domestic minority groups, in STEM education and careers. African Americans and Latinos alone make up 31% of the population, and he writes the country cannot maintain its economic and scientific health when such a large part of the population is left out of science and engineering. In addition, he contends the United States will not have racial justice without educational justice. Underrepresented groups must have equal access to higher education.

This thought-provoking book examines issues that contribute to the lack of minorities in graduate STEM programs, including a dependence on standardized tests, deficiencies in K-12 education and historic and ongoing racism. As a long-time mentor, he has seen first-hand that professors have lower expectations of these students. In a survey of Rice University faculty, only 6% agreed that underrepresented minorities have talent in the field of study. Unfortunately, professors often interpret poor performance for lack of ability, despite the undoubtable fact that most of these students have not had the same quality education as their Anglo peers and are therefore not as well prepared.

Providing a road map to increase the representation of domestic minority learners in academia and STEM fields, this is a must-read for university administrators and professors who want to attract and retain a diverse student body. In addition, Tapia includes advice for students, their parents and teachers, who will also benefit from his wisdom and years of experience serving as a mentor to those from diverse backgrounds.