STEM Through Another Lens

Despite encompassing a wide range of careers, the fields of STEM often display characteristics associated with institutionalized discrimination against minorities.

The Current State of STEM

It would be an extreme understatement to simply say that STEM careers are disproportionately filled by white males. In order to fully express the dire state of equity within STEM disciplines, we must first identify the extent of the disparity.

In addition to the inequity surrounding race and equity with regards to representation in STEM careers, the salary gap between white employees and their BIPOC counterparts highlights the intensity of inequity present within STEM. The median pay for white STEM employees was roughly $20,000 – $30,000 more than Black and Hispanic STEM employees.

Furthermore, the wage and employment gap extends across gender. The median pay in STEM careers for women in 2020 was $60,480, while men in the same fields were paid a median salary of $84,000. This equates to roughly a 77% pay rate for women in comparison to their male counterparts.

Looking Through A New Lens

The idea of STEM seems as though it should be extremely inclusive, but with institutional discrimination strangling the fields’ full potential, changes must be made. Despite simply being the right thing to do morally, fighting for inclusion within STEM is the right thing to do academically as well. The inclusion of diverse peoples, backgrounds, ideas, and views has proven to be a reliable accelerant for progress of all kinds.

The decision to pursue a career in STEM is often made based on student experiences within the classroom. The classroom culture can easily draw students in or push them away, and as educators, we have a uniquely impactful role in this ecosystem. Although many educators may be consciously supportive of every student within STEM classrooms, subconscious micromessages such as facial expressions or word choices can impact student self-efficacy and career choice.

Changing classroom culture requires awareness of that culture and the myriad of micromessages that circulate within it.

Claudia Morrell and Carolyn Parker
Adjusting Micromessages to Improve Equity in STEM

As you may know from my last blog, I love acronyms. Previously I talked about how remembering MAP could help you foster student motivation in the classroom, but now I’d like to put a spin on the STEM acronym itself. Here are four words that I plan to highlight within my classroom in order to help instill a better view of STEM for females, BIPOC, and students with disabilities.

Striving

Within the fields of STEM, the boundaries are always being pushed further and further. At the core of this progress is the diversity of people and ideas.

Thinking

In addition to the continuous search for knowledge within STEM, the “how” of thinking within STEM is invaluable. The process of observation and experimentation can be applied to every aspect of one’s life.

Everybody

The fields of STEM are undeniably fields for everyone. The overlaps of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math with other subjects such as the humanities provide valuable avenues for cooperation. For example, historic methods of concrete mixing from ancient Rome outperformed modern-day methods for centuries.

Margins

The overlap of diverse peoples and subjects related to STEM inevitably leads us back to the margins. As I’ve mentioned before, within these margins we can expect to find some of the most important and inclusive discoveries possible.

TLDR: Too Long Didn’t Read

The fields of STEM are currently rife with inequity and discrimination against women, BIPOC, and individuals with disabilities. Much of the change needed in order to promote diversity and inclusion within the realm of STEM must take place in classrooms. Improving classroom cultures through positive micromessages can have positive effects on student self-efficacy within STEM environments.

Sources:

https://www.computerscience.org/resources/diversity-inclusion-in-stem/#Career-Demographics

https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat39.pdf

https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/adjusting-micromessages-improve-equity-stem


Michael Mischler

Miami University || Class of 2023
College of Education Health and Society || Integrated Science Education Major
Secretary || NSTA, Miami University Chapter

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10 Responses to STEM Through Another Lens

  1. mischlml says:

    Hey Anthony,
    I’m happy you liked my attempt to tie this concept into the Margins blog. As I told Ellie, I plan on bringing these ideas into my classroom bit by bit rather than as one giant unit. I figure that if I infuse these concepts into each of my lessons and spend even a bit of time promoting equity in STEM, I can make a larger difference.

  2. mischlml says:

    Hey Steven,
    I really appreciate your comment. I spent a ton of time trying to organize my post into something that was coherent for the reader, so I’m happy it came across well.

  3. mischlml says:

    Hey Nathan,
    Thank you so much for the comment! I’m really excited to include this style of teaching within my classroom. Frankly, if students take issue with inclusivity, they’ll need to make some changes to their thinking. However, I believe — and hope — that my students will welcome my level of inclusivity.

  4. mischlml says:

    Grace,
    I really appreciate your compliment on the infographic! I spent a bit of time on it so I’m happy to hear that it was well-received. I’m really looking forward to our “Meet the Scientist” presentations to hopefully learn more about diverse scientists!

  5. mischlml says:

    Ellie,
    Thank you so much for your comment! I was afraid that Striving, Teaching, Everybody, and Margins would be too much of a stretch, but I’m glad you like it. I plan on bringing these ideas into my classroom bit by bit rather than as one giant unit. I figure that if I infuse these concepts into each of my lessons and spend even a bit of time promoting equity in STEM, I can make a larger difference.

  6. greveaa says:

    Hey Michael,

    Nice spin on the post by tying in ideas from past blogs like the margins! It was a nice refresher to see something so familiar and see it incorporated in a new way. So, how will you incorporate teaching in the margins to inspire your future female and BIPOC students to pursue careers in STEM?

  7. wahlsc says:

    Hey Michael,
    Great job on this post! You were very in-depth with your blog post and I could tell you put a lot of effort into it. I think that the way you organized this post allowed the reader to get a good understanding of what you were talking about. I think that its crucial that we build confidence in our students to allow them to reach whatever goal they want to achieve.
    Great Job!

  8. bantznf says:

    Hey Michael! I really enjoyed your post, it was very well-written and well-researched. You gave great reasons as to why diversity in the STEM field matters, and how the field is negatively impacted when there is not diversity. I loved your acronym for STEM: Striving, Teaching, Everybody, and Margins. One question I have is how do you think your students will respond to your inclusive style of teaching?

  9. karlocge says:

    Michael-

    AMAZING that you created that first infographic yourself. It is beautiful and also does a great job of comparing the number of people of various races and ethnicities in the US vs in the STEM field. Your new acronym for STEM was awesome, especially as you connected it back to the margins- that topic keeps coming up, which shows how important it is. Are there any scientists you are sure you want to tell your future students about?

  10. brennaem says:

    Michael,

    I love this post! It looks amazing and is incredibly well written. I especially love your Striving Teaching Everybody Margins take on STEM. How do you plan on bringing this thinking into your classroom?

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