Diversity in the STEM field

According to Funk and Parker in a 2018 report, half of all employed adults in the STEM field are women, but the vast majority of this comes from the health-related field. In 2016, the percentage of women in the math and life science fields closely resembled the 47% that women make of the entire employed workforce, but especially in the computer and engineering fields, female representation is severely lacking. One thing to also notice is that women are significantly more likely than men to have a job outside their field even if they have a computer or engineering degree.

Many minorities also have it bad where they are underrepresented in STEM jobs compared to their representation in the overall job market as seen below. Blacks are underrepresented by 2% and Hispanics by 9% in STEM jobs, and that gets even worse in fields such as physical and life science.

These STEM fields have grown significantly since 1990 and this area has been shown to have some of the highest-paying jobs, with an average of $71,000 a year in 2016 for a STEM job, and $43,000 a year for a non-STEM job (Funk & Parker, 2018).

What can be done?

These numbers may seem daunting, but they are definitely not insurmountable. Looking at the root of problems can help find solutions. According to aauw.org, some key factors that maintain the gender STEM gap are gender stereotypes, male-dominated cultures, fewer role models, and math anxiety. Many of these problems come from teachers, especially in elementary school but all throughout schooling, that have their preconceived ideas that women “don’t belong” in STEM, so many girls are pushed out.

Exploring that role model idea mentioned earlier, there are limited role models for women and minorities in STEM, so making a point to talk about people like this in the STEM field can help make goals more realistic to reach y giving them a role model like them. One way to do this is through activities similar to our Meet the Scientist, where students have to find a female, minority, or otherwise underrepresented person in science to show the life of and help not only themselves but others see that there is more to STEM than just white men.

Neil Degrasse Tyson talks about being a minority in STEM, particularly about how his drive to be an astrophysicist allowed him to push through people telling to “be an athlete” and any other obstacles he might face. Some students may not have this same drive but they should still be encouraged to pursue a career in a field that they enjoy, not just one that society expects them to have. It’s teachers that have the responsibility to provide the best and most equal opportunity they can to all of their students, not just the white guys.


Funk, C., & Parker, K. (2019, December 31). Diversity in the STEM workforce varies widely across jobs. Retrieved from https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-across-jobs/

The STEM Gap: Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – AAUW : Empowering Women Since 1881. (2020, October 05). Retrieved from https://www.aauw.org/resources/research/the-stem-gap/

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A Look at the STEM Field and Diversity

The field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is a rapidly growing field. As the world become increasing reliant on technology, it becomes ever more important that people work to maintain these technologies and improve on them. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, “since 1990, STEM employment has grown 79%,” totaling to about 17.3 million STEM related jobs (Funk & Parker).

As a science teacher, this sounds great! The world is more in need of science and scientists than ever. However, as the field grows, it’s important that we ensure that STEM is not dominated by one voice or one group of people. We need to make sure that there is diversity in thought as we continue the ongoing journey of uncovering the universes mysteries.

That being said, what is the status of minority groups in the STEM field in the U.S.? Well, you may be surprised to learn is that according to that same Pew Research Center article “women make up half of all U.S. workers in STEM occupations” (Funk & Parker). Once again, this sounds great! Women make up about half of the United State’s population, so it makes sense that they make up half of one of the fastest growing occupational fields. But we have to take a closer look at these statistics to really understand them.

In the specific occupational groups of STEM there’s actually a huge disparity in the presence of women. Funk and Parker state that, “Women account for the majority of healthcare practitioners and technicians,” but we see much less representations in other STEM jobs such as computer programmers and engineers.

A lack of diversity in race can be seen more blatantly from the statistics. The Article states that “blacks make up…9% of STEM workers” and “hispanics…only 7% of all STEM workers” (Funk & Parker). These numbers make it pretty hard to argue that all races are equally represented in the STEM field.

So What Can We Do?

The best way to increase diversity in the STEM field is to start from the beginning. Meaning, that we need to encourage women and minority children and students to pursue careers in STEM. It’s pretty rare that people start down a career path and then switch into a STEM career, so it’s important that we get kids excited about STEM jobs. So how do we that?

Well, as a future educator of America, I think that school is the best place to build a love for STEM. The best way to do this is to make school and science interesting. Too many students become disenfranchised with STEM because they spend too much time in dull lifeless classrooms.

There are so many ways we can do this. We can allow students to follow their curiosity. We can use opportunities to get out of the classroom. We can connect science to other content areas. But I think in this case the most effective method is to emphasize the creative aspect of the STEM field.

Few people realize that STEM occupations require creativity. All of these jobs require problems solving, and in many cases they are problems that didn’t exist just a few years ago. So students should be designing, developing and creating more in STEM classrooms. Rather just reading the answers to problems out of a textbook, students should be making their own answers.

I believe it is this creativity that will interest people in the STEM field. A lot people believe that science is stagnant. That one day some one thought of the laws of thermodynamics and they just were the truth from then until the end of time. In reality, science is constantly changing, shifting and growing on itself. We need to show students that they can be a part of this ever changing and growing field.

Another way to encourage students of minority groups to pursue jobs in the STEM field is to provide with role models. STEM has been dominated by white men for a long time, so many of the scientist we talk about are just that. So it is important to infuse minority scientist stories into classrooms. For example, the first black woman in space, Mae C. Jemison, is a great example. She studied to be a doctor, but also worked with NASA and became an astronaut. She would be a great role model to show students all that they can do in the STEM field.

Picture of Mae C. Jemison, in her astronaut suit. Taken a few months before launching into space.
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Urging for Equity in STEM

The status of women and minorities in stem has always been a hotly debated topic. STEM, or the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, inspires innovation and creativity in the work force, but unfortunately, underrepresentation prevents STEM fields from reaching their full potential. STEM fields need than just the able-bodied, white, heterosexual, cisgendered male’s contributions; STEM needs the creativity and knowledge of minority individuals in order to ensure the contributions to the field are diverse and expansive to all groups of people.

Statistics of Women in Stem:

Though women’s representation percentage in the STEM field has increased over several years, there are still factor in place that cause the underrepresentation of women in the field:

  • Though women make up nearly half of the work force, their representation in STEM fields is only at 26%. (https://www.onlinecolleges.net/for-students/women-and-minorities-stem/)
  • The percentage points of women in positions such as computer scientists, systems analysts, software developers, information systems managers and programmers has gone down 7 percent since 1990. (https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-across-jobs/)
  • The gains in women’s representation in STEM has only included women holding advanced degrees in their education, while this is not always the case with men in the field. (https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-across-jobs/)
  • The gender wage gap is larger in the STEM field than other occupations (

Though the numbers of women in STEM are steadily increasing, it is important that the opportunities that are available to women are the same as those offered to men without any added obstacles. It is important that women feel encouraged to pursue fields in STEM so the field will have a more diverse mindset of contributions.

Statistics of Other Minorities in Stem:

There is also an underrepresentation of blacks and hispanics in the STEM field. There are many sources that contribute this representation percentage to the amount of individuals who take STEM courses in college; it is reported that blacks and hispanics are not studying STEM at a collegiate level, but I believe that there are barriers from preventing them to be able to do so.

  • Blacks make up 11% of the U.S. workforce overall but represent 9% of STEM workers (https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-across-jobs/)
  • Hispanics comprise 16% of the U.S. workforce but only 7% of all STEM workers (https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-across-jobs/)
  • It is reported that minorities have a significantly higher dropout rate, especially in the STEM field (https://www.onlinecolleges.net/for-students/women-and-minorities-stem/)

I think it is imperative that educational and fiscal support is provided to minority groups to help ensure that they have the same opportunities to enter STEM fields as other privileged groups do. Their diverse viewpoint and creative contributions are necessary in STEM fields and the ever-changing discoveries of science.

How to Encourage Equity in STEM:

The “opportunity gaps” that minorities face in STEM fields need to be eradicated in order to obtain equity. These opportunity gaps need to be squashed BEFORE they even arise, and by this I mean teachers of the youth need to open up more opportunities for minorities to become interested in STEM.

  • Teachers need to actively support their students to use their “sense-making
    repertoires, funds of knowledge, and experiences of 21st century life
    as critical tools in engaging with science and engineering practices.” (http://stemteachingtools.org/assets/landscapes/STEM-Teaching-Tool-15-Equity-Overview.pdf)
  • Encourage students use their own backgrounds, histories, and practices to help them understand scientific methods and procedures. They will feel more inclined to contribute their idea to STEM topics (http://stemteachingtools.org/assets/landscapes/STEM-Teaching-Tool-15-Equity-Overview.pdf)
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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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Equity of STEM Encouragement

The inequity in STEM is shocking and we as educators have the unique opportunity to attack this problem and inspire our future generation to pursue STEM.

Source: https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/articles/stem-captain-leading-the-way
This is a short discussion between Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson and Dr. Bruce Jones about the untapped potential of minorities in STEM. I encourage you to watch this short introduction as to why we need to encourage all of our students – specifically women and minorities – to pursue STEM.

What is Equity?

Equality and equity are not the same thing. To understand the goal of this post – equity in STEM encouragement – we must first understand the terms. Equity means there is access to the same resources – fairness. Equality means everyone has the same thing – sameness. SMART Reading made a brilliant graphic to illustrate this idea.

Source: https://smartreading.org/about-smart/equity/

Our goal as educators should be to give all of our students, no matter their gender, racial, or ethnic identity the access to the same opportunities that can be found in STEM.

What is the current status of women and minorities in STEM?

Women and minority populations are currently extremely underrepresented in STEM. According to the Pew Research Center, people who identify as Black and Hispanic are the LOWEST represented in STEM careers.

There is an extremely level of untapped potential and talent because of inequity of access of STEM opportunities for minority populations. As you can see above, the employment of Black and Hispanic populations in STEM is staggeringly low.

This inequity can also be seen, for example, of women that receive degrees in mathematics or statistics, according to an NSF/NCSES research study.

The numbers of women pursuing degrees in mathematics and statistics are decreasing, not only in terms of receiving an advanced degree, but they are fewer women pursuing these degrees every ten years. This decline is saddening, and as educators, we need to try to change this.

How do we equitably encourage STEM?

The first way that I propose that we encourage STEM is through mentorship programs. Blow you will find a video that Princeton University put out concerning the power of mentors in helping students succeed in STEM.

I encourage you to watch this video and take note on just how important mentorship is to people.

In the classroom:

As a future educator, I want to develop a mentorship program for my students.

  • Connecting younger students with other students who have been successful in my classes previously.
  • Connecting to the greater community and calling upon different people within the field of Chemistry, for instance, that can connect with my students.
  • Every month or every other week, there could be a “Connection Friday”
    • This day students and their mentors can come together.
    • They can choose to get help on homework, ask each other questions, or just talk about life.

Giving students the connections to people to help them and serve as a guide is invaluable for encouragement to stay within STEM.

The second way that I propose that we equitably encourage STEM is through introducing new extracurricular programing specifically designed for different populations and STEM involvement.

Eastern Michigan University created, Digital Divas. This after school program allowed for high school girls, who were interested in STEM, to get together and travel to the university’s campus and participate in experiments and mentorship with university women.

Source: https://www.sme.org/technologies/articles/2020/august/promoting-stem-careers-for-women/

In the classroom:

As an educator in STEM, I can help to be an advisor and advocate for afterschool clubs like Digital Divas. In this example I will be talking about a Women in Science Group. As an educator/advisor I would…

  • Help identify and recruit students who would appreciate and benefit from the programing
  • Help apply for different grants and funding to allow for different experiments and activities to be completed within the group
  • Use personal connections with neighboring universities and business to bring the girls opportunities to network and gain perspectives outside of their own “worlds”


Listed below are some resources to aid in your further journey in understanding the importance of why educators need to push to make STEM opportunity equitable to all!

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Enhancing Equity in STEM

Women and Minorities in STEM

For years, women and minorities in science, engineering, technology, and math (STEM), have faced substantial opposition and challenges in pursuit of a career in these fields.

Many women have been steered against pursuing STEM-based professions in that (historically) they have been considered a “man’s job”. Women have been traditionally expected to remain in more domestic or people-based roles including nursing, teaching, and mothering.

Fortunately, years of racial and gender protests and activism has helped to bridge the gap to introduce more women and minority groups into STEM professions than ever before. Some of the most valuable scientific discoveries have come from minority groups that have faced considerable oppression in entering and being recognized in their fields. Still, our society has much work to do with respect to welcoming more women and minorities in STEM fields.

Ways to Encourage Students to Pursue STEM

I believe that science educators can play a monumental role in their students’ ability to pursue STEM fields. It is incredibly important for educators to value and encourage students.

Below are some ways to encourage ALL students to pursue STEM:

  • Present your students with success statistics of women and minorities in STEM fields
  • Verbally recognize the significance of the accomplishments of women and minorities in STEM
  • Make your students’ lives relatable to the experiences of successful women and minorities in STEM; challenge students to think about the similarities in their lives to those of successful scientists
  • Avoid stereotyping STEM fields and encourage students to keep an open mind about pursuing things they may not have traditionally thought about
  • Create an inclusive learning environment and use culturally responsive practices
  • Remind students that ALL students can and should learn about science

How I will Instill STEM Equity Awareness in the Classroom

Clearly, increasing equity in STEM is an ongoing social justice issue that will not be fixed over night. However, there are things as science educators we can do in our classroom to instill awareness of STEM equity issues and begin to break down the achievement gaps and barriers that have stood in place for so long.

  1. Find Yourself in the Scientist Activity

One activity that could help to push students to pursue STEM fields would be a challenge that requires students to research women and minority scientists and find similarities in their lives, personalities, interests, etc. I think this would be beneficial because it directly relates to the lives of the students and thus the activity will be more interesting from the start. If students begin to see the overlap in their lives, they can see how some ordinary people turned into great scientists.

2. Live Experiences

If possible, organizing a live speaker to come into the classroom and speak about their experiences in the STEM fields can inspire students to want to pursue an occupation in the STEM fields. Particularly, having an underrepresented speaker come into the classroom may help to empower students.

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A Note to the Teacher: Encouraging All to Pursue STEM

There are many misconceptions about equity and equality. These two terms are often used interchangeably even though they are very different. Equity is defined as proportional representation while equality is defined as treating everyone the same, giving the same opportunities. It is important to understand the importance of equity in the STEM field.

Source: Equity Tools

Status of Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

  • Now, more than ever, women are being encouraged to pursue studies in the STEM field, but do the numbers support this? The short answer is yes. Since 1970, there has been a gradual incline in the percentage of women in STEM. As seen in the chart below, the only field that saw a decline in STEM occupations were computer workers beginning in 1990.
Source: census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acs-24.pdf
  • The future of STEM depends on diversity within the field. Currently, there is a gap between the minority populations and minorities employed in the STEM field. The gap must close so that the STEM field is accurately represented. When accurately represented, the field will thrive – connecting different backgrounds, skills, and ideas. Below, we see Nicole Cabrera Salazar discuss STEM diversity in the TEDx video.

Why Pursue a Career in STEM?

“The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts overall employment in the economy to grow by 7.4% between 2016 and 2026, while jobs in STEM fields are expected to grow by 10.8%.”


The projected growth of jobs in the STEM field is expected to be 10.8% between 2016 and 2026.

“STEM jobs are shifting toward those with a computer and mathematical focus.”

– Stephanie Horan
Source: https://smartasset.com/checking-account/fastest-growing-stem-jobs-in-the-us-2020

“According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, college-educated STEM job holders earn between 29% and 39% more per hour than non-STEM employees with equivalent educational attainment.”


Those who have earned a STEM degree and work in the STEM field earn more on average per hour than those who do not have a STEM degree.

STEM Awareness in the Classroom

In my future classroom, STEM will be the main focus. I hope to one day teach high school life science or chemistry classes; both of which focus on science. I have learned several ways to incorporate technology, engineering, and mathematics in a science classroom.

  • Science – develop lesson plans that follow state standards and guidelines, but allow for inquiry-based activities
  • Technology – utilize different computer programs that allow students to experience the numerous platforms available
  • Engineering – during inquiry-based activities allow for students to design their own lab experiments with trial and error
  • Mathematics – arithmetic, algebra, and higher math should be utilized when solving different science questions ranging from physical science to AP chemistry
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Equity : Science Education :: Equilibrium : Science

Equity and equality, as terms, are often used interchangeably. Before we proceed, I would like to clarify the differences between the two.

Equality: everybody gets the exact same amount of resources/treatment
Equity: resources/treatment is distributed based on the needs of the recipients.

Please consider the image below:

In this situation, equality fails to address the biggest issue that inhibits everyone from enjoying the baseball game since it falls under the assumption that everyone will be able to benefit from the same amount of support. A system of equity allows everyone access to the same opportunities.

What is the status of women and minorities in STEM?

Although we as a society have improved our overall outlook towards women and minorities, certain social constructs, socioeconomic issues, and stigmas still maintain a strong influence towards dissuading women and minorities from the STEM field.

This data shows us that a there is a staggering amount of white men that hold science and engineering occupations vs women and minorities.

How would we go about encouraging women, individuals with disabilities, and minorities to pursue a career/education in STEM?

  • Promote gender equity at an early age. Allow both boys and girls of all ethnic groups to utilize their innate creativity and foster their appreciation for the sciences.
  • Make an effort to foster their self-efficacy in science. Boosting a their self confidence towards their competency of science at a young age will go a long way towards convincing them to develop their passions in STEM.
  • Increase their exposure/awareness to women, individuals will disabilities, and minorities that hold prominent roles in the STEM field. Modern media is doing a decent job increasing their inclusivity in leading movie roles, inspiring millions. If we want to inspire future women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities to become scientists, engineers, doctors, etc., we must put in the same, if not greater, effort to inspire inclusiveness in STEM.
In this video, Dr. Imogen Coe does a fantastic job addressing why we see a lack of women in the STEM field and empowers them to challenge stereotypes and pursue their passions for science using real life examples and witty humor.

How you can foster equity and a passion for STEM in your classrooms

Teachers need to be aware of their influence on their students. In my future classroom, I promise to foster equity and a passion for STEM by:

  • Focusing my pedagogy around student-centered learning through inquiry, utilizing open-ended problems, and hands-on collaborative work that reflects how science is practiced throughout the professional community.
  • Fostering and maintaining an environment where diversity is celebrated.
  • Establishing lab groups to consist of different people of all backgrounds and encourage them to work together.
  • Scaffolding my content to include significant women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities in physics/chemistry in my lessons.
It may be daunting for one teacher to solve the issues of inclusivity alone, but science has always advanced under the sum of each scientist. We must tackle these same issues with that exact same strategy.
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Science Teaching 2.0: Fostering Equity in STEM

When you think of a scientist, engineer, or mathematician – who do you think of? What do they look like? And, more importantly, why did you think of that particular kind of scientist? If you thought of a white, able-bodied, male scientist wearing a lab coat with glasses and crazy hair……you’re not alone.

Using the “draw a scientist” test, numerous research studies have analyzed the beliefs and stereotypes children have about scientists since the 1960’s (Terada, 2019). These studies show that:

Source: Miller, Nolla, Eagly, & Uttal, 2018 in Terada, 2019
  • Initially, less than 1% of children drew female scientists, but this percentage increased to 28% on average in more recent studies (Terada, 2019).
  • Girls are more likely than boys to draw female scientists. In 2016, 58% of girls drew female scientists whereas boys drew male scientists 90% of the time (Terada, 2019).
  • As students get older, however, perceptions of scientists change and more students tend to draw male scientists (Terada, 2019).

Despite the efforts to promote equity in STEM in recent years, student’s perceptions of scientists have not significantly changed over the past several decades (Terada, 2019).

So, what is the status of women and minorities in STEM, how can we encourage them to pursue STEM, and what should STEM awareness look like in the science classroom?

Status of Women and Minorities in STEM

Although the science and engineering workforce has become more diverse, women and minority groups continue to be significantly underrepresented in these fields (AAUW, n.d., NGCP, 2020). This is substantiated by recent data, which shows that:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity,” Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, Table 11, 2019 in AAUW, n.d.
  • Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 28% of the science and engineering workforce (NGCP, 2020)
  • A “majority of STEM workers in the U.S. are white (69%), followed by Asians (13%), blacks (9%) and Hispanics (7%). Compared with their shares in the overall workforce whites and Asians are overrepresented; blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in the STEM workforce as a whole” (Funk & Parker, 2018).

Ways to Encourage People to Pursue STEM

Since 1990, the US has experienced a rapid transition to an information-based economy and, as a result, STEM employment has grown by a staggering 79% – outpacing all other occupations (Funk & Parker, 2018). Continued growth of the STEM-based economy requires a diverse workforce, which not only positively affects problem-solving and innovation, but also increases company revenues (Master’s in Data Science, 2020).

Women and minorities can be encouraged to pursue STEM occupations by:

  • Dispelling commonly held beliefs and stereotypes held by children and young adults about who can pursue STEM (AAUW, n.d.,Terada, 2019).
  • Providing mentorship, professional development, and career advancement for individuals both in the academic setting and in the workplace (AAUW, n.d.).
  • Promoting more women and minorities to leadership roles and higher levels of management (AAUW, n.d.).
  • Creating more flexible and inclusionary (and less male-centric) academic and workplace cultures that provide support for women and minorities (AAUW, n.d.).
  • Closing the salary gap ($15,900 in 2013!!) between male and female professionals in STEM-related jobs (Ouimet, n.d.)

In this TEDx talk, Elaine Montilla explains the value of mentoring women and minorities in Tech

Promoting STEM Awareness and Equity in the Science Classroom

Teachers play an important role in encouraging students to pursue coursework and future career opportunities in STEM. To do so, teachers need to:

  • Focus on learning the process of science. Taking an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based approach to science will equip students with the essential skills for the 21st century workplace (NOVA Education, 2016).
  • Emphasize strong and visible role models and provide mentorship programs for girls and minorities who are underrepresented in STEM (AAUW, n.d.).
  • Promote diversity in STEM by incorporating posters, books, and other classroom decorations that showcase women and minority scientists (Terada, 2019).
  • Invite guest speakers into the classroom (in-person or virtually) to share their perspectives, experiences, and advice about careers in STEM (Terada, 2019).
NASA astronaut Kay Hire speaks to students about STEM careers at a White House event in 2015 (NOVA Education, 2016).
  • Increase awareness of higher education and career opportunities for women and minorities in STEM (AAUW, n.d.).
  • Expand after-school and summer STEM opportunities for students, such as science clubs, workshops, field trips, etc. (AAUW, n.d.).
  • Be mindful of gender bias in language and, as a teacher, avoid transferring your own anxiety about math or science to your students (Terada, 2019).
Source: https://www.aauw.org/resources/research/the-stem-gap/ (AAUW, n.d.)

Real world application: After watching one of NOVA’s Secret Life of Scientists & Engineers videos on a scientist or engineer that interests them, students can 1) compare and contrast scientists’ stories with a partner, 2) examine their own beliefs and stereotypes about STEM, and 3) select an element of the story to research and present to the class. In doing so, students will envision themselves as scientists, mathematicians, or engineers (NOVA Education, 2016).


AAUW. (n.d.). The STEM Gap: Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. https://www.aauw.org/resources/research/the-stem-gap/

Funk, C. and Parker, K. (2018). Diversity in the STEM workforce varies widely across jobs. The Pew Research Center, Social and Demographic Trends. https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-across-jobs/

Kelly, L.B. (n.d.). Draw a Scientist: Uncovering students’ thinking about science and scientists. National Science Teaching Association. https://www.nsta.org/draw-scientist

Master’s in Data Science. (2020). A Guide for Minorities in STEM: Increasing Workplace Diversity. 2U, Inc. https://www.mastersindatascience.org/resources/a-guide-for-minorities-in-stem-increasing-workplace-diversity/

National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP). (2020). Statistics: K-12 Education.Top of Form https://ngcproject.org/statistics

NOVA Education (2016). How to Build STEM Career Awareness at Your School. WGBH Educational Foundation. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/how-to-build-stem-career-awareness-at-your-school/

Ouimet, M. (n.d.). 5 Numbers That Explain Why STEM Diversity Matters to All of Us. Wired. https://www.wired.com/brandlab/2015/05/5-numbers-explain-stem-diversity-matters-us/

Terada, Y. (2019). 50 Years of Children Drawing Scientists. George Lucas Educational Foundation, Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/50-years-children-drawing-scientists

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How Can I DRIVE My Students?

In Daniel H. Pinks book, “DRIVE,” Pink shows us that much of what we know about motivation is actually wrong. Pink addresses that tasks are either algorithmic or heuristic, and that the carrot and stick approach. All of this to say what? How can we use Pink’s information to better help the motivation of our students?

The Thermodynamics of Motivation: Moving beyond Drive Theory - HMI  Community Blog

What is extrinsic and intrinsic motivation?

Extrinsic motivation is what’s considered as the carrots and sticks; “if you do *this*, then you get *this*.” Extrinsic motivation is a a type of motivation that can be used for a reward or a punishment; giving students and ulterior motive to do something. Whereas intrinsic motivation is the type of motivation that comes from within; when genuine joy is produced from doing something that.

Why don’t sticks and carrots work?

  • Pushes out intrinsic motivation
  • Decreases student performance
  • Put a stop to creativity
  • Often increases cheating

What fires intrinsic motivation?

Pink developed a way to light intrinsic motivation on fire! Here’s what Pink came up with that can help us with our students:

  • Autonomy– the desire to direct our own lives
  • Mastery– the urge to get better and better at something
  • Purpose– the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

How can I incorporate intrinsic motivation in my classroom in my classroom?

  • Give your students compliments; it will encourage them!
  • Make your students feel like what they’re contributing is valued, appreciated, and worth something!
  • Give them a goal or help them set a goal for themselves!
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