#scio10 aftermath: my tweets from "Casting a wider net: Promoting gender and ethnic diversity in STEM".

Session description: We will introduce programs that attract wider audiences to science, math, and engineering at various institutions/education levels, programs that mentor students (high school, undergrad & grad students) in research and education excellence. How Social Media tools can be used to raise the profile of and build support networks for under-represented scientists and engineers.

The session was led by Anne Jefferson (@highyanne) with assistance from Lyndell Bade (@lyndellmbade), Evelyn Lynge, and Zuska. DNLee (@FeteSociety) was to have led the session with Anne but did not make it to the conference. The presentation included research conducted by Pat Campbell.

Here's the session wiki page.

"Casting a Wider Net: Promoting Gender and Ethnic Diversity in STEM" just getting started at #scio10

Recruitment is only part of the task. Retention requires (among other things) fostering a sense of community for the recruits #scio10

How to recruit diverse participants to STEM community - GK-12 program Univ. of Mo.-St. Louis, classrm projects, aft schl clubs #scio10

Hands-on avian research activities with kids -> Future Ecologists as Researchers. Lab work + group mtgs + blogging + poster sess #scio10

Urban and suburban kids working together on avian research over a summer became a cohesive ecology group #scio10

Evelyn Lynge describing American Association of University Women efforts over its history to break barriers #scio10

RT @FeteSociety: @docfreeride - one of those kids presented poster at a national science conference #Diversity #STEM #scio10

Draft a set of recs for individuals, employers, STEM orgs, to support diverity amongst students and employees #scio10

Zuska's observations about community: 1. No one starts from scratch; know your history. #scio10

Zuska's observations about community: 2. No (or few) community blders are rich; be creative. #scio10

Zuska's observations about community: 3. No community is an island; build webs in space and time. #scio10

Zuska brought books about history of women in science and technology -- will get cites and post during one of the breaks. #scio10

Supporting grad students and postdocs can be achieved with chips, soda, and a volleyball net (plus enthusiastic volunteers) #scio10

Volleyball and snacks -> a network, a newsletter, leadership skills & lifelong friendships. Community building/diversity support #scio10

Small individual efforts from lots of people can add up to big differences in the climate; knowing your history help make it moreso #scio10

Blogs as resource and support networks for women geoscientists (results of real research w/IRB approval) #scio10

Geosciences has a real ethnic diversity problem (so results mostly speak to experiences of white women geoscientists) #scio10

Blogs make your experiences more normal; tell about life as a scientist and/or a woman in geoscience #scio10

Blogs help buid connects to women in other sciences; help to find role models; finding greater variety of role models #scio10

Surveyed academics vs. non-academics - students and faculty v. enthusiastic about value of blogosphere; women in govt. v. negative #scio10

Do industry & govt. provide better support for women geoscientists (so they need blogsphere less than women in academia)? #scio10

What about types of diversity not represented here? (Not supporting them in school/job environ *or* blogosphere? How to do better?) #scio10

At this point, noting that my fingers were already flying, Anne asked me if I could be the note-taker for the discussion, trying especially to capture suggestions people made for steps we could take to promote gender and ethnic diversity in STEM. This means I stopped Tweeting. However, here are the notes I transcribed:


Connect up with your library to archive poster sessions, build institutional memory. Foster identity as a researcher/scholar -- students can get contacted abt their work by interested people in real world!

Thought about nontraditional career paths: even describing them this way can be problematic (making you feel like a pioneer when that's not what you want to be; making it seem scary).

What is it about the places women earning the degrees are going that makes them more welcoming to them? What makes certain job environments more desirable or less desirable? (Prestige of top-50 research university vs. real life flexibility; who's defining what's prestigious for the people being trained?)

->Look at tone of discussions about folks on different tracks (reinforcing or challenging common wisdom about desirable or respectable paths).

Off-site people versus on-site people (the former as maybe more welcoming to more people?)

Look at what the life sciences have done to improve their diversity; steal their good ideas.

How particular scientific fields emerge, develop, grow up, can set up cultural features that are less welcoming. Knowing these features may help point to ways to change them.

Supporting entry to field while supporting connections to family and culture? Connections to students' real lives (via Facebook, e.g.) can help. Being more accessible, seeming like a "real person" (not a perfect, unapproachable role model) might help.

Initiative to support undergrad researchers -- putting their faces out their (supports them, plus changes the public face of who's coming up for the next set of undergrads coming in).

How to balance the goal of creating safe (and anonymous) online communities with the goal of making communities more diverse and making that diversity more apparent for those you're trying to recruit?

Steps not to put too much pressure on people who aren't comfortable being role modes. Finding the right balance of support.

Finding ways online to challenge our default assumptions about the people we're interacting with in different contexts. Does supporting diverse members of the community benefit most form challenging people's online assumptions, or would it be more effective to do something else first.


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