On December 9th, the White House honored twelve individuals as Champions of Change in America.
They were recognized for their efforts to recruit and retain women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
I am humbled to be selected as one of those twelve individuals and share this honor with numerous mentors and colleagues with whom I have had the tremendous opportunity to collaborate on research.
Two years ago, President Obama’s Educate to Innovate campaign was launched to improve the nation’s participation in STEM, particularly for youth.
Among the three pillars of this campaign is the commitment to “expand STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and girls.”
My scholarship supports this third pillar by contributing research evidence to the STEM discourse on the impact of cultural factors on academic and career outcomes….
Addressing Career Development.
Many individuals are highly motivated to pursue and intrinsically interested in STEM fields but have limited knowledge about the diverse career pathways and jobs they can pursue with a STEM degree.
In a recent New York Times article on November 4, 2011 titled, “Why Science Majors Change Their Minds”, data from the National Science Board was reported that many STEM students lose sight of why they pursued the field in the first place.
Facilitating career exploration, career planning, and career commitment may help address this erosion of STEM career goals.
What can you do? Consider these six ideas:
- Increase your understanding of how cultural factors, like race/ethnicity and gender, may influence STEM academic and career development. See my article on ” The vocational significance of Black identity: Cultural formulations approach to career assessment and career counseling with African Americans,” and the special March 2011 issue of Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering on the status of women in STEM, guest co-edited by Angela Byars-Winston and Silvia Canetto.
- Challenge stereotypes—directly address and discuss potential implicit bias, prejudice against underrepresented minority groups in STEM. See empirically-supported strategies for reducing and resisting bias.
- Enhance individuals’ cultural competence to work in historically culturally-homogenous STEM environments. See jointly authored articles on the Influence of social cognitive and ethnic variables on academic goals of underrepresented students in science and engineering …,” and, “Integrating Theory and Practice to Increase Scientific Workforce Diversity: A Framework for Career Development in Graduate Research Training.”
- Facilitate career development and career planning in undergraduate and graduate STEM research training programs.
- Broaden individuals’ knowledge of what STEM careers are. See video of panel discussion in May 2010 from the US Dept of Labor on youth entering STEM careers. See website for ideas and resources by Prof. Rich Feller.
- Do something local in your community to advance the next generation in STEM. For ideas, visit the following website. Enter your zip code and be immediately connected with local STEM activities, efforts, and collaborations in which to become involved!
I am doing my part to support President Obama’s challenge to “Out-Build, Out-Educate, and Out-innovate” future competitors.
Please join me and the other 2011 Champions for Women in STEM in doing the same.