Module 3 Weblog – Kathryn Williams (née Gardner)

  1. Persistence of women and minorities in STEM field majors: Is it the school that matters? Amanda L. Griffith

Grittish, A, L. (2010). Persistence of women and minorities in STEM fields majors; Is it the school the matters? Economics of Education Review, 29(6), 911-922. 

Griffith explains that there is a gap between the representation of women and minorities in STEM fields post-university compared to the numbers of men or majority groups. She argues that this is due to two reasons: first, women and minorities are less likely to choose STEM subjects to study at university and second, they are less likely than men and majority groups to remain in that major until graduation. Her study looks at the impact of their previous educational experiences, impact on their post graduate choices and selections, the influence that female professors have on female students and minorities graduation rates in STEM fields. 

  1. Aboriginal woman defies odds in science – Derek Sankey, Calgary Herald

This article focusses on Indigenous woman Becky Cook, who grew up in Manitoba. She attended the University of Manitoba and now works as a geophysicist. Cook attributes her success to community support. She now mentors young Indigenous girls and tries to make them more aware of the options available to them post-high school. While researching Indigenous women in STEM careers, I have found several articles like this one which highlight an Indigenous woman who has overcome many barriers to achieve success in STEM subjects. The articles, like the one above, are often inspirational. I find these articles very interesting but they led me to ask more questions. When will there be fewer barriers in the way Indigenous women achieving success in these fields? How can the norms be changed so that an Indigenous woman achieving success in scientific or mathematical careers is no longer newsworthy and becomes the norm?

  1. Implementing Meaningful STEM Education with Indigenous Students & Families

This website suggests many practical tools for including Indigenous knowledge systems in STEM subjects in the classroom. A very simple tool which is highly recommended is ‘observation of the natural world.’ Further recommendations include connecting STEM subjects to the everyday community responsibilities of Indigenous students, inviting guest speakers into the classroom and taking children outside school to have different experiences.

  1. Putting Raven Back Together Again – Case Study

This case study describes the experiences of students who took part in the Native Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Summer Camp in Seattle in July 2015. Taking the original STEM subjects, this camp combined them with the Arts. Campers were encouraged to think deeply about their surroundings whilst celebrating the Indigenous way of knowing. The camp used Indigenous stories and combined them with modern sciences. They gave the example of mischievous Raven being thrown off a cliff and the environmental consequences that followed and connected this to modern human caused environmental problems and drought. The program developers noticed that there were not very many science-oriented camps for Indigenous kids and that is why the camp was set up, as the organizers believe it will help increase Indigenous student achievement as well as their overall well-being.

  1. Alberta Women in Science Network –

The Alberta Women in Science Network (AWSN) assists STEM outreach programs to share resources and support each other to achieve shared goals. The network’s vision is equal opportunity for all in STEM. Developed in 1994, AWSN has advanced STEM opportunities for young girls and has helped women in STEM careers to share resources. The network also recognized that Indigenous people were underrepresented in the STEM fields and developed programs that were specifically geared towards them. For example, the Power to Choose program gives Indigenous youths in grades 7-12 the knowledge and power to choose a career and encourages them to stay in school to achieve these goals. The three pillars of the organization are: recruitment – encouraging underrepresented groups to pursue their interest in STEM; retention – helping STEM-trained professionals to find and retain work in their fields; and recognition – recognizing excellence in STEM pursuits.


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