Institute of Human Origins - March 2024


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Minority Women in STEM

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Tiffany Cook Tiffany Cook 1280 Points

This has been a topic that I have been interested in for quite some time. It appears that minorities and women, especially minority women, have been underrepresented in the disciplines of STEM. We can hear about it all the time in the media. I would like to utilize this forum to discuss current statistics, initiatives, and other discussion topics that focus on minorities and/or women in STEM. To start off, CBS News published a video discussing an article published by US News & World Report in February of 2014. The US News & World Report specifically calls out the under-representation of women and minorities in the STEM fields. CBS Video: US News & World Report:

Kara Stark Kara Stark 1435 Points

thank you for this information it has been insightful.

Margaret Harrison Margaret Harrison 475 Points

This is a great start with excellent resources to learn about this need.

Tiffany Cook Tiffany Cook 1280 Points

Early this morning I viewed an opinion piece posted by Rachel E. Scherr - a senior research scientist at Seattle Pacific University, conducting research on the teaching and learning of physics. This opinion piece titled "Much Work Remains to Encourage Girls, Women in STEM Fields". It was copied taken from Scherr's piece from The Seattle Times, "What Keeps Girls From Studying Physics and STEM". Physics is described as "the least diverse of the sciences, with only 20 percent of bachelor’s degrees going to women and fewer than 10 percent to underrepresented minorities". At the graduate level Physics, Chemistry, and Biology fail to represent women. Scherr continues her article by providing her own personal experiences alongside current research on effective physics teaching and learning. Guest: What Keeps Girls From Studying Physics and STEM

Maria Rodriguez Maria Rodriguez 3880 Points

Even without the statistics this is obvious. Visit any university classroom, go into the physics or chemistry labs and you will see women and minorities are barely represented if they are present at all. My son is a 17 years old, Black Hispanic young man who wants to be a theoretical physicist. I have been talking to him about this, he will have to be very resilient because he wont find many other students looking like him. I am thankful for programs like the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Internship at University of Miami which gave him and several other minority students (including many females) a chance to learn about science and research during their summer program. In 7 weeks these students had a chance to work with real scientists doing real research. Students were partnered with scientist based on their interest whenever possible. My son completed research on nanotechnology and now he is volunteering on Fridays working on Physics of optics and sound. The presentation of all the students during the final symposium were mesmerizing. These programs are doing a lot to include more women and minorities in these fields, but there is still much more that needs to be done.

Brittany Carpenter Brittany Carpenter 1875 Points

I think this is a wonderful topic and an issue that is crucial for teachers to be aware of. I feel in recent years, while women and minorities are still extremely underrepresented, more has been done to encourage those underrepresented to pursue a STEM field career. Now, more than ever, you see doctor Barbie, math/science video games aimed toward girls, toys (Such as goldieblox) encouraging girls to explore engineering concepts, etc. At this point, I feel it's important for teachers to take the next step and make it normal for students to see women and minorities in STEM field. Don't just wait until February to show all of the wonderful things African Americans contributed to the STEM field, for instance. It's not going to be a cure-all, because minorities are still severely underrepresented in the media and there are tons of systematic inconsistencies that promote white privilege. But, I feel teachers are the first step to helping encourage students that may not realize we need them in the STEM field.

Tiffany Cook Tiffany Cook 1280 Points

I'm glad you feel that way and I agree with you. Women are becoming more represented in STEM fields, but it's all part of the process to progress. What interested me into working with children is how we can make a difference. I think Mattel and other toy companies are helping to peak the interest of young people. I particularly like the technology based toys like Leapfrog. Not only are kids using technology, but there are many programs students can use with that device to learn about STEM according to their interests. Do you feel like the toy companies are portraying "idols" like Doctor Barbie accurately? Have you ever considered an innovation for children that will help them develop or exercise skills in STEM? A toy or maybe a game?

Tiffany Cook Tiffany Cook 1280 Points

I just stumbled across this website that speaks about stereotypes still being presented within the media and why it may be why subjects such as math and science are dominated by men. The give an example of The Big Bang Theory. Women still face gender bias in math, science fields.

Tiffany Cook Tiffany Cook 1280 Points

Check out this episode on the Planet Money Podcast about women and coding. Description as follows: "Mark Zuckerberg. Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. Most of the big names in technology are men. But a lot of computing pioneers, the ones who programmed the first digital computers, were women. And for decades, the number of women in computer science was growing. But in 1984, something changed. The number of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged. Today on the show, what was going on in 1984 that made so many women give up on computer science? We unravel a modern mystery in the U.S. labor force."

Susanne Hokkanen Susanne Hokkanen 79520 Points

What a great audio clip! And as I was a young adult in the 80s, and I must admit, I was totally unaware of the obvious bias. I do remember my father getting a computer in the early 80s, and not being impressed with it. However, I did own a computer of my own in the late 80s/early 90s, and I aggressively pursued the knowledge I needed to be successful in the operation of it. As an educator, I feel it is very important that we continue to encourage our women/girls and minorities to pursue their interests, and encourage them to develop an interest in science and math. Thank you for sharing these resources!

Tiffany Cook Tiffany Cook 1280 Points

Current White House initiatives? The Obama Administration stands committed to providing students at every level with the skills they need to excel in the high-paid, highly-rewarding fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). That’s why in November 2009, the President launched the Educate to Innovate initiative to move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade. This campaign includes the efforts not only of the Federal Government, but also of leading companies, foundations, non-profits, and science and engineering societies who have come forward to answer the President’s call for all-hands-on deck. To date, this nation-wide effort has garnered over $700 million in public-private partnerships and hit major milestones in the following priority areas: 1. Building a CEO-led coalition to leverage the unique capacities of the private sector 2. Preparing 100,000 new and effective STEM teachers over the next decade 3. Showcasing and bolstering federal investment in STEM 4. Broadening participation to inspire a more diverse STEM talent pool My current research underlies with the fourth area, "Broadening participation to inspire a more diverse STEM talent pool". Check out the link below to see what partnerships are currently involved with Obama's "Educate to Innovate" initiative. There are URLS embedded within the site to directly send you to the homepages of partnerships, fact-sheets & reports, as well as what is being announced in the news. I've included an article link to one of my favorite partnerships with the initiative, "Change the Equation". The article labeled "STEMtistic: Stereotypes Start Early" directs readers to a study that states girls' and boys' attitudes about math begin to diverge as early as second grade. Educate to Innovate. STEMtistic: Stereotypes Start Early.

Jacqueline McDonnough Jacqueline McDonnough 1910 Points

Even though there is much work to be done in increasing the number of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields let us not forget the 350,000+ minority women currently in STEM fields. Those women are exerting a powerful influence in their respective industries. A couple of weeks ago I attended the Women of Color in STEM conference and by the number of women being honored we are making strides. Check out the Career Communications Group latest edition of their Women of Color Magazine.

Tiffany Cook Tiffany Cook 1280 Points

Thanks Jacqueline! You make a great point. Is this the conference you were speaking about? ? Are there any other links you could link me to regarding this topic?

Lauren Jackson Lauren Jackson 905 Points

This video is a good resource. It is also very true. Very powerful for women to see.

Tiffany Cook Tiffany Cook 1280 Points

This 2013 NPR article speaks on how the number of girls and women studying the sciences has steadily increased each year, but there still exists a gender gap in higher education and the work force. A 23 min audio is linked with article. Very interesting to listen to. Take some time to listen or read The STEM Gender Gap article here: Another article posted 3 years ago by the U.S. News & World Report. It addresses the shortage of women in technical jobs. It touches upon the poor economy and stereotypes and how they are communicated. Women may leave fields of computing and engineering due to their lack of confidence in these fields in U.S. whereas in certain countries, such as Malaysia, women overpopulate then men in computing workplaces. Take a minute to read Wanted: Technical Women here:

Shohani Islam Shohani Islam 1155 Points

I agree. Very insightful!

Larosa Etienne larosa etienne 1220 Points

Wow, I watched the video and it is very powerful. I encourage all minorities, women and medn alike to not fall into the stigmas and distaste with the biases.

Hannah Chacon Hannah Chacon 495 Points

This is great, thanks for sharing.

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