This project centers on creating STEM classrooms where students from all backgrounds feel included and empowered to intervene if they observe stereotyping, bias, and prejudice. Using surveys and interviews of adolescents as well as testing a new intervention, the findings will document factors related to resilience in STEM fields.
An important barrier to persistence in STEM fields for marginalized groups, including women and ethnic minorities, relates to cultures in many STEM organizations, such as academic institutions, that foster discrimination, harassment and prejudicial treatment. This research will contribute to understanding the STEM educational climates in high schools and will help to identify factors that promote resilience in STEM contexts, documenting how K-12 educators can structure their classrooms to foster success of all students in STEM classes. We are examining inclusive STEM classes with attention both to college preparatory STEM classes as well as specialized STEM programs that are preparing youth for immediate entry into the STEM workforce upon graduation. Further, this work will explore how to create schools where students stand-up for each other and support each other so that any interested student will feel welcome in STEM classes and programs. This work is innovative in bringing a bystander intervention lens to classroom-based exclusionary experiences. Research on aggression demonstrates how powerful bystanders can be in interrupting unacceptable behavior, but no prior work has examined whether students can be empowered to serve as active bystanders in STEM classrooms to help create inclusive spaces for all students.
We are just getting started! Right now, we are setting up our partnerships with districts and thinking about how the new landscape of education since COVID-19 may shape the findings we obtain.