Increasing diversity in STEM fields: Challenges and solutions from childhood to adulthood
Given the increased gender diversity of our workforce, one question that arises is why there continue to be fewer women than men pursuing and succeeding in prestigious careers in math and science? In this talk I will start by reviewing research by social and developmental psychologists examining how unconscious bias and gender stereotypes can continue to provide a barrier to women’s advancement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs and careers. Next, I will review studies that have aimed to increase diversity in these fields and will provide evidence that while stereotypes provide additional challenges for educators and underrepresented students alike, they are not insurmountable.
Dr. Jennifer Steele is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, at York University. She received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. From there she moved to Boston, Massachusetts where she completed a Master of Education as well as a Master of Arts and Doctoral degree in Social Psychology at Harvard University. She is currently the director of the Interpersonal Perception and Social Cognition Lab (IPSC) at York University and, while on sabbatical, is the York-Massey Visiting Fellow and a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Psychology here at the University of Toronto. Her SSHRC-funded research, examines stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination from a social cognitive perspective. Dr. Steele has investigated the effect of gender and racial stereotyping on hiring, the consequences of stereotype threat for young girls’ mathematical performance and advancement in scientific domains, as well as the attitudes and experiences of women in male-dominated academic areas. Much of her current research aims to increase our understanding of implicit racial biases and gender stereotyping in childhood, as well as the malleability and consequences of these biases for both minority and majority children.