“It is difficult to choose a profession if you are unaware of it or you do not see others like you. Basically, I want to see more people who look like me working as actuaries,” explained UW-Madison Risk and Insurance faculty Paul Johnson, co-coordinator of this initiative and himself African-American. “It is also personally important to me to provide another STEM career opportunity to individuals who are underrepresented in the actuarial field, and who are quantitatively skilled and need the information and support to consider actuarial sciences a profession.”
Discussing diversity in the actuarial field, “New Report Holds Keys to Diversity and Inclusion” (The Actuary, March 2018) states that only 2% of actuaries are African-American and 2% are Hispanic. The article cites a study from 2015-2017 where researchers identified “…five segments of the ‘actuarial career pipeline’ where African-Americans and Hispanics face barriers to a greater extent than Caucasians: 1) Awareness of the field, 2) Consideration of actuarial science as a viable profession, 3) Preference over other science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professions, 4) Intent to take and pass the exams, 5) Employment and retention.”
For the UW-Madison actuarial program and other organizations, increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the actuarial profession is a priority. “I see a role that we can play is one of increasing awareness about the profession and also opportunities for education, networking and mentoring,” explained Johnson.
To turn this vision into a reality, UW actuarial faculty have connected with leaders from both the International Association of Black Actuaries and Organization for Latino Actuaries. In addition, UW faculty and faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities are exploring opportunities for their students to participate in UW-Madison’s actuarial classes. And, UW faculty are also looking forward to connecting with the faculty at Hispanic-Serving Institutions.
“In addition to our other efforts, we will work closely with our Actuarial Club and our alumni network to bring opportunities to students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the actuarial field,” shared Johnson.
Johnson also coordinates UW-Madison actuarial students who are tutoring middle school students in mathematics to increase their STEM skills. This spring semester 8 undergraduate students participated in this class volunteering with the Actuarial Foundation’s Math Motivators Program to virtually tutor students from various Midwestern middle schools. This activity began in the spring of 2020, when UW-Madison actuarial students and faculty tutored students at Madison-area middle schools via the Schools of Hope Program of the Urban League of Greater Madison. Middle school tutoring will continue into the 2021-2022 academic year and will accommodate a tutor’s preference to tutor in person or virtually.
For more information, please contact Paul Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org).