stemming from inclusion

Houston ranks as the No. 6 best city for diversity in STEM

Houston ranks among the top markets with most diverse STEM workforce. Getty Images

Houston has long been known as a melting pot with almost 1 in 4 Houstonians being foreign born and no ethnic majority, but a recent study has shown that this diversity translates to the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics industry.

SmartAsset studied the demographics within STEM employment in 35 technology hubs in the United States. The company factored in racial, ethnic, and gender diversity using Census Bureau's 2017 one-year American Community Survey data and the Shannon index.

As a result of the research, Houston was named the No. 6 market for diversity among the tech hubs considered. Fifty percent of Houston's STEM workforce is not white, and of that, 21 percent are Asian, 15 percent are hispanic, and 14 percent are black.

Less exciting, Houston has some room for improvement when it comes to gender diversity, the study found. Only 27 percent of Houston's STEM workforce are women, and that's more of a middle-of-the-pack ranking compared.

Washington D.C. claimed the top spot for STEM diversity after jumping from 10th place on last year's report. The U.S. capital boasts the highest percentage of female workers in STEM at 43 percent. Behind DC is Philadelphia, Sacramento, New York, and Boston. Dallas also appears on the top 10 list, coming in at No. 9. Dallas was also called out for its low percentage of women in STEM with women making up only 24 percent of the STEM workforce — the lowest representation among the top 10.

In April, the city of Houston was named the most diverse city in America, according to data from personal finance website, WalletHub. That study analyzed 501 of the most populated cities in America across five key dimensions: socioeconomic diversity, cultural diversity, economic diversity, household diversity, and religious diversity.

When you zero in on technology specifically, Houston does pretty well with female representation in the industry. In a separate report from SmartAsset that was released earlier this year, Houston was named the fourth best major metro for women in technology based on quality of life, pay, and more.

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Building Houston

 
 

Moonflower Farms grows lettuce hydroponically. Courtesy of Moonflower Farms

A Houston urban farm has earned national recognition for its innovative approach to water conservation. Moonflower Farms won the American Heart Association's Foodscape Innovation Excellence Award, which recognizes positive changes in the foodscape, a term for all of the places where food is produced, purchased, or consumed.

The Heart Association selected Moonflower's submission, titled "Sustainable Farming Through Water Conservation," from 26 entries. Dallas' Restorative Farms earns the Foodscape Innovation Consumer Choice Award.

"These two innovations demonstrate a way of producing food that promotes affordability and equitable access, and the American Heart Association is proud to recognize these efforts," AHA chief medical officer for prevention Eduardo Sanchez said in a release.

Located in a 20,000-square-foot greenhouse south of downtown, Moonflower operates what it describes as Houston's first vertical indoor farm. The method both reduces the amount of space needed to grow the farm's microgreens, lettuces, herbs and edible flowers and it eliminates the disruptions caused by adverse weather conditions, which allows the farm to produce year round.

Moonflower uses a closed-loop system for capturing rainwater to feed its crops. The water is treated and oxygenated so that it can be reused. Not having to pay for water from the City of Houston allows the farm to operate more economically and sell its produce at an affordable price to restaurants and individuals.

"Our hydroponic farm uses 90-percent less water than conventional farms," Moonflower founder and CEO Federico Marques said in a statement. "We provide year-round produce to residents in historically underserved communities and donate produce to local charitable food systems."

One of those charities is Houston non-profit Second Servings, which "rescues" food from restaurants and events and distributes it to food pantries and other resources.

"The donations we receive from Moonflower Farms are incredible," Second Servings founder and president Barbara Bronstein said. "Their hydroponically grown greens are so appreciated by the needy Houstonians we serve, who lack affordable, convenient access to fresh produce."

Recently, Moonflower introduced a SupaGreens subscription box that allows customers to purchase greens weekly, bimonthly, or monthly. The box is delivered directly to consumers.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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