ASQ - Education Division

Identification of Strategies that Overcome Barriers to Women and Minorities in STEM

Abstract: This paper is authored by A.A. Ilumoka and is included in the conference proceedings for the ASQ 2012 Advancing the STEM Agenda Conference.

At a time when there is concern by policy makers about the nation’s STEM capacity, it is imperative not only to increase capacity, but also to address gender and racial imbalances. Leading high-tech companies require diversity to maintain globally competitive technical workforces. Research shows that workforce diversity can boost a company’s bottom line by providing a creative variety of thinking styles and, thus, new business solutions. Integration of STEM education into middle and high school curricula for women and minorities poses important challenges. For example, the average female or minority teenager is exposed to less than 3 hours/week of STEM-related material in popular media as compared to over 100 hours/week of non-STEM content such as sports and entertainment. As a result, STEM issues are barely on their radar screens. The STEM research effort reported here attempts to find ways to diversify the STEM workforce through identification of pedagogical strategies for recruitment and retention of women and minorities into STEM classrooms. These strategies were identified through a comprehensive STEM immersion program involving approximately 100 middle/high school students in the Hartford area during an 18-month period. Program was funded by the University of Hartford and the National Science Foundation.

Keywords: STEM - Conference Proceedings - Women and Girls in STEM

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