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 Sheena Sanchez.


April 20, 2022

12:00pm, PST Zoom

Catalina Martinez
NOAA Ocean Exploration

" Equity Through Access: Mitigating barriers to STEM for marginalized & minoritized scholars "

We know beyond a doubt that diversity is increasing in the U.S., that U.S. racial and ethnic minorities are driving this growth, and that it’s projected to continue into the future. This diversity is clearly not represented in the STEM workforce, and there are countless barriers and challenges that feed into this immense disconnect. One area worth acknowledging is that college experiences for many underrepresented scholars from diverse backgrounds can be vastly different than those of their majority counterparts. This is due to a variety of factors, including differences in social, economic, cultural, and political capital, some of which can be attributed to historic and persistent structural biases.

One of the more direct ways to bridge these gaps is through development of student and early career opportunities as gateways to entry, including undergraduate and graduate research internships, scholarships, and fellowships. Beyond the obvious financial advantages to participating in these programs, they are also iterative on-ramps to a whole host of important academic and professional benefits. These can include connecting with mentors and future career champions while expanding professional networks; learning new technical and life skills; gaining insight into the ‘unwritten rules’ of organizational cultures; and ultimately increasing potential for future employment. These experiences also help students develop their ‘science identities,’ and begin to feel a sense of belonging, which are crucial factors for persistence within STEM fields. Students who complete such programs are also more likely to apply for and receive additional high value opportunities, as they are often iterative. In many instances, these benefits remain elusive for underrepresented scholars, as barriers to entry for those not from the dominant culture or from privileged backgrounds are as pervasive today as they have always been. We must reimagine how scholars are recruited, assessed, selected, and supported to truly build equity within these powerful and life-changing STEM opportunities.

The presenter will share suggestions and effective mitigation measures to help bridge barriers to entry, persistence, and success for underrepresented scholars into programs designed for students and early career STEM professionals, and will share thoughts on how to create a safer, more inclusive experience for participants from all backgrounds.

Host: EEB Graduate Students