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Enhancing Gender Diversity in STEM Requires Support from All

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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Keith J. Bowman University of Maryland, Baltimore County

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Dr. Keith J. Bowman is Dean of the College of the College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT) and Constellation Professor of Information Technology and Engineering at UMBC, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Dr. Bowman began his academic career as a Purdue University Assistant Professor after receiving BS and MS degrees from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and a PhD degree in materials science and engineering from the University of Michigan. He served as a visiting professor and received Alexander von Humboldt stipends for research at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany in 1996 and 2002 and he served as a visiting professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia in 2003. He is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society and has held several division and society-wide positions. Awards at Purdue University include receiving the MSE Best Teaching Award and Purdue’s highest teaching award, the Charles Murphy Undergraduate Teaching Award. Professor Bowman’s name is also listed in the Purdue Book of Great Teachers. In 2007, he received the Purdue College of Engineering Mentoring Award and he became the first Professor of Engineering Education (by courtesy) from MSE. From 2007 to 2011 he served as Head of the Purdue School of Materials Engineering. In 2012 he was invested as the first Duchossois Leadership Professor in the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Armour College of Engineering soon after joining as chair of Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering. Prior to UMBC he served two years as dean of the College of Science & Engineering at San Francisco State University wherein he led more than four hundred faculty and staff and about six thousand majors.

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Sue Rosser California State University System, Office of the Chancellor

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Sue Rosser has been Special Advisor for Academics, Research Development and External Partnerships at the California State University System Office of the Chancellor. From 2009-2016, she served as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at San Francisco State University since. From 1999 - 2009, she served as Dean of Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Tech. She has published 14 books and more than 140 journal articles on the theoretical and applied issues surrounding women and gender in science, health and technology.

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Enhancing Gender Diversity in STEM Requires Support from All Keith J. Bowman, University of Maryland, Baltimore County Susan V. Rosser, California State University Office of the Chancellor

Professor Barbara Oakley of Oakland University recently attributed part of the responsibility for limited science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) diversity to faculty from the humanities and social sciences who “malign” STEM disciplines and characterize STEM careers as unworthy of literate and creative individuals. Does she have a good point? During the last two decades substantial effort has been dedicated towards reconciling developing students with what can be broadly defined as STEM identities. Considerable recent research on STEM identities has focused on the identities of groups and intersectionalities underrepresented in STEM disciplines and careers. Some research suggests that merely inserting a STEM label, e.g. science or scientist, into a discussion unleashes implicit biases of gender, race and ethnicity in middle school children.

Despite the use of different methodologies, STEM identity research on promoting inclusivity consistently shows that students, at least those from Western countries, are likely to describe STEM professionals as unattractive, asocial and disheveled white males. The gap between this depiction of a STEM person and their own identity is seen as an obstacle for women and other underrepresented individuals to development of their own STEM identity. Substantial research on curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular interventions and pedagogical strategies designed to elevate students’ STEM identities and their likelihood of pursuing STEM careers ties to efforts to foster a STEM identity permitting all students to see themselves as a “STEM kind of person”.

Critical to advancing equity is exploring the role that all academic disciplines have in shaping gender diversity of the STEM workforce. With the increasing influence of engineering design and computing in shaping our lives, education standards should require all students to have significant and equitable STEM experiences. Such a requirement would foster an interest in STEM subjects and careers in more, diverse students, while reducing the focus on STEM pipelines. This would parallel the situation in some other countries where the college track requires all students to follow the same curriculum, regardless of gender. In another way, it would align with education in the humanities and social sciences where the focus is not on careers and pipelines. Larger increases in the number of bachelor’s degrees earned by women and distribution across disciplines have changed gender diversity for both STEM and non-STEM disciplines. One contributing factor is that bachelor’s degrees earned by American women have more than tripled since 1970, while those for men only increased by about sixty percent, although wide variance exists in gender distribution across the disciplines in both STEM and non-STEM fields, with the extreme being computer science where women earn less than 20% of bachelor’s degrees. Although in 2017 US men earned only 22% of psychology bachelor’s degrees, 30% of English-literature bachelor’s degrees, and less than 20% of education bachelor’s degrees, significant concern over the lack of males in some areas of study and careers is rarely expressed.

Bowman, K. J., & Rosser, S. (2019, June), Enhancing Gender Diversity in STEM Requires Support from All Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32746

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