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Personal interactions are important drivers of STEM identity in girls
As head of the educational outreach arm of the Florida State University-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Roxanne Hughes has overseen dozens of science camps over the years, including numerous sessions of the successful SciGirls Summer Camp she co-organizes with WFSU . In a new paper published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Hughes and her colleagues took a much closer look at one of those camps, a coding camp for middle school girls. They found that nuanced interactions between teachers and campers as well as among the girls themselves impacted how girls viewed themselves as coders.
Posted on 29 Sep 2020
Weeding out inequity in undergraduate chemistry classes
No academic catalog is going to define an undergraduate class as a ''weed-out'' or ''gatekeeper'' course. But these courses can come to define individual career paths, pushing some students out of STEM fields entirely. The weed-out effect impacts students of all backgrounds, but students from marginalized groups, especially Black and Latinx, are particularly hard hit, and experts say these weed-out courses are part of the systemic racism underpinning the diversity challenges that chemistry and the sciences overall face. In addition, these same students may struggle to develop a sense of belonging in STEM. That general chemistry and organic chemistry courses at many institutions fit this description should come as no surprise. In their analysis of the course offerings at six institutions, the authors of Talking about Leaving Revisited found that 22% of the courses meeting their criteria of weed-out courses were chemistry courses. A study by the Gardner Institute of introductory chemistry courses at 31 institutions, including community colleges and public and private 4-year colleges and universities, found an average DFWI (including incompletes) rate of 29.4%. The DFWI rates for Black and Latinx students in introductory chemistry at the 31 institutions were above 40%. This disproportionate effect happens because students from marginalized groups are more likely than other students to have attended high schools where advanced math and science classes weren't offered, experts say. Such students with an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) majors lacked opportunities that students in high schools with more resources had.
Posted on 11 Sep 2020
A Guide for Minorities in STEM: Increasing Workplace Diversity
STEM is a collective curriculum based on science, technology, engineering and math. STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach that combines facets of each of its corresponding subjects and integrates them into a cohesive learning opportunity. The curriculum for STEM was created to help develop and disseminate comprehension and expertise that typically carry social, economic and personal benefits. While the idea and benefits of the STEM curriculum are novel, it does not impact each demographic in the same way. For example, in the fields of computer engineering and computer science, there is a substantial disparity between minorities and their counterparts. Of the 5 million employed workers in the computing field, minorities only account for about 30% of employees, and that number includes women as well as ethnic minorities. Unfortunately, there exists a multitude of impediments that may make post-secondary education and enterprising applications more complicated for underrepresented minorities. A review of available data reveals that minorities are underrepresented at just about any level of education and field of work in STEM fields.
Posted on 11 Sep 2020
Women in Science: A Historical Bumpy Ride
Even though they're historically outnumbered in math, science, and engineering, and often face stereotypes and sexism in their fields, women have always led breakthrough research and pushed scientific innovation forward. In the past, being a woman in STEM meant initially getting ignored by the Nobel Prize Nominating Committee - despite discovering radioactivity. Or NASA thinking you'd be ''too emotional'' to operate in its station - never mind that you'd beat the odds and become the first American woman in space. From inspiring to absurd, a look back at the historical misconceptions about women in science reveals how far women have come in shattering obstacles. In this episode of The Abstract, we discuss the female scientists who motivated us all to advance in whatever field we choose, thanks in part to the painstaking pioneers who helped blaze the trail.
Posted on 31 Aug 2020
Diversity in CS: Race and gender among CS majors in 2015 vs 2020
It's no secret that the tech industry has historically lacked racial and gender diversity. And when Stanford's computer science (CS) department isn't creating founders of the next Google, Snapchat or Netflix, it's busy churning out employees for these big tech companies. Given the industry's limited progress in increasing diversity, this pipeline between Stanford's CS department and the tech sector highlights the importance of diversity within its students. This article examines the race and gender demographics of CS majors, and how this breakdown has changed over the past five years.
Posted on 17 Aug 2020
''Woke-Washing'' Your Company Won't Cut It
Kelli, a data scientist at a tech company, recently submitted a request for a promotion. Her responsibilities had increased after turnover on her team and she felt the extra work merited recognition. But she was told that the VP who needed to approve the promotion didn't have time to consider it - they were too preoccupied crafting a company response to the renewed conversations about racial injustice and police brutality. As a Black woman asking for her work to be recognized, she was struck by the hypocrisy. ''I found it ironic that senior leadership prioritized their public image when internally they dismissed or ignored the very Black voices that they claimed to care about,'' she told. ''It made the gesture of solidarity feel like a slap in the face.'' As companies all over the U.S. have rushed to advertise their commitment to racial justice and claim common cause with a historic protest movement, we've seen a lot of stories like Kelli's. Her sentiments are representative of the many employees experiencing statement fatigue - a growing level of disinterest, ambivalence, and outright outrage towards companies calling out racial injustice without showing any signs of taking action. And in the current U.S. social climate, employees are becoming more empowered to call out their company's hypocrisy - juxtaposing solidarity statements with lopsided statistics of company representation and personal accounts of negative workplace experiences.
Posted on 29 Jul 2020
Online R Challenge – Advance UNM
Are you looking for a new challenge? Want to level up your data analysis and visualization skills? Learn R using this tutorial series by Advance at UNM, a member of AWIS' ARC Network. Using the R programming language can be a great tool in a variety of disciplines for data analysis and visualization. To help you get started, the Advance at UNM have compiled several video tutorials, a list of resources and a space to chat about what you're doing in R.
Posted on 12 May 2020
Scientist Mothers Face Extra Challenges in the Face of COVID-19
When COVID-19 began to spread globally and stay-at-home orders were issued broadly, many were quick to point out that Sir Isaac Newton was his most productive when forced to stay home during London's Great Plague of 1665. This commentary was almost immediately followed by the observation obvious to any scientist mother: Isaac Newton didn't have caregiving responsibilities. The pandemic is bringing to light many challenges that people have long worked to address. We are members of 500 Women Scientists, working to build a more inclusive scientific community and highlighting the unique challenges faced by women in scientific disciplines. It is clear to us that workplace policies and culture can undermine women's success in STEM fields. The ''mom penalty,'' for example, is all too familiar to many of us. Now, the global COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing necessary to address it have compounded our concerns about women’s success in scientific disciplines, worsening nearly every disadvantage that women already face.
Posted on 12 May 2020
Celebrating women in science
Sunday, 11 February, was the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. To mark the day, the female scientists from around the world have been asked to reflect on their experiences and offer their advice. The responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Posted on 11 Mar 2020
19 Things You Might Not Know Were Invented by Women
Necessity isn't the only mother of invention. Though it wasn't always easy to get patents or the credit they deserved, women are responsible for many items we use today. America got a brand new paper bag when cotton mill worker Margaret Knight invented a machine to make them with a flat square bottom in 1868. (Paper bags originally looked more like envelopes.) A man named Charles Annan saw her design and tried to patent the idea first. Knight filed a lawsuit and won the patent fair and square in 1871.
Posted on 08 Feb 2020

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