The “E” in STEM Also Stands for Everyone.

There have been recent efforts over the years to encourage more people to pursue careers in science other than your stereotypical representation of someone a lot like the first image below. While (in my opinion) the story of society is doing a much better job of painting a holistic picture of what a scientist might or possibly look like (second image below), there is still a disparity: There are fewer women and other minority groups in STEM-oriented fields and careers because of the barriers that remain in place within our system.

When you google search “scientist”

In this image I see women, multiple races, etc. They ALL have white coats and are working with chemicals, though and we know scientists do SO MUCH MORE beyond the laboratory. I also notice how many of the images include scientist working in groups and collaborating, which is great to dispel the narrative that scientist work alone.

Raising STEM Awareness in the Classroom

How to create a classroom culture that encourages STEM for ALL:

  • Designing STEM activities for your students! If we want the forming minds in our classroom to believe they all can engage in this field if they choose to one day, then students should have first hand experience with actual labs and activities that are STEM in nature and engaging with these processes
  • Starting the STEM early on. Don’t wait until the last few weeks of a semester to do STEM activities, teachers should methodically plan it around lessons throughout the entirety of the school year
  • Show your students that STEM has carry-over to real-world applicability. One way to do this might be having a guest speaker come in who is a minority in the STEM field
  • Another way we can help our students feel encouraged to pursue opportunities and careers in STEM is to write great letters of recommendations in a way that that limits biases. See this really helpful pamphlet below:
  • Another way to raise STEM awareness in this classroom is to link STEM activities with the student’s family. By increasing the engagement with the school and family network VIA STEM, we can really heighten the positive impact between STEM opportunities and our student’s attitude and beliefs towards it. STEAM activities (addition of arts) would be a wonderful way to connect families to these opportunities
  • Finally, we can use community resources to come up with innovative STEM opportunities for our students. These resources might be technological resources, natural resources, economical resources, etc.
In this video, Debbie Sterling discusses her own journey of successes and struggles as a female engineer and how we might go about changing the narrative for young females.

Status of women and minorities in STEM

As you can see from the infographic on the right, there is a gender gap in the STEM field across various aspects: education, employment, and types of STEM occupations (although not mentioned here).

I think one of the biggest takeaways here is the 11% of teen girls showed a interest in STEM job fields. This is what we have to focus on as future educators…changing this narrative.

In honor of RBG (She said it best):

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4 Responses to The “E” in STEM Also Stands for Everyone.

  1. kamisem says:

    Riley,
    First of all, I love the catchy title to your blog post! Sometimes I feel like our society is guilty of stereotyping a “typical” STEM student but really we need to move away from this notion if we are ever going to enhance equity in STEM fields and help more women and minorities be successful.

    My favorite aspect of your post was the point you made about what shows up when we google search “scientist”. While there is a degree of diversity shown, what the scientists themselves were doing was very basic–all of them were in a lab! We need to remind students that there is so much more to science and show all the fascinating ways scientists contribute to our society.

  2. wilsonbp says:

    Hi, Riley! Amazing post, I really enjoyed the images selected and the content portrayed. Specifically, the graphic you utilized from the University of Arizona that discusses how to avoid gender bias in reference writing. I would have never thought to include that discussion, but it is totally worth mentioning! I would suggest that in our future endeavors, we keep these to use as reference in our back pockets. Thank you again for sharing!

  3. Evan says:

    Riley,
    Great post! That’s an interesting approach with the google image search that I wouldn’t have thought of but it makes a great point! I also thought that image of the reference letter tips was interesting. Some of the points they bring up seem obvious but I’m also actively thinking about it so that may be it. I liked your ideas to encourage STEM for all in the classroom, particularly about showing the real-world application of science because I know science can seem very strange and limited to the classroom for a lot of students.

  4. jaycoxck says:

    Hi Riley! Wowza! Your post was incredible! I really appreciated all of the different ways that you suggested that we can incorporate STEM into the classroom. The point that I specifically found interesting was when you mentioned reference letters and making them related to STEM. I have never thought about that before and found that to be something I will definitely be coming back to in the future.

    I had one quick question regarding your post. What other ways, beyond speakers, coming into the classroom would you show your students the applicability and real-world application of STEM (and STEAM)!

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