Individual Submission Summary

Direct link:

Surviving, Thriving, or Redesigning the System: Strategies for Change from Female STEM Undergraduates

Tue, April 16, 1:30 to 3:00pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Bay (Level 1), Bayview B


The VMware Women's Leadership Innovation Lab at Stanford University recently launched Seeds of Change – a new initiative to address the glaring underrepresentation of girls and women in STEM—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—fields. Motivated by the critical imperative of better understanding and addressing the gender biases that inhere early on in STEM pathways, Seeds of Change aims to provide innovative training and support to young women in STEM as they transition through high school and university to successful STEM careers. Each year, between 17 and 24 STEM undergraduates participate in the program. These undergraduate leaders indicate that they join the program because they are passionate about STEM, eager to change gender dynamics in the field, and are encouraged to support other women. Seeds of Change is distinct from traditional pipeline projects because it does not focus on the technical skills and education of STEM. Rather, the project takes an interdisciplinary approach to STEM education and complements students’ technical training with leadership training through a lens of gender inequality. All topics covered in the program are areas where research indicates that: 1) knowing these frameworks and skills can enhance leadership and promote advancement, yet, because of expecta-tions associated with gender, these topics are often missing from women’s and girls’ education and, 2) once learned, men and women have differential experiences engaging with these frameworks and skills due to the role of gender bias and gender stereotypes. The undergraduate leaders that complete the program strongly agree that gender bias influences how they perceive, evaluate, and interact with others and how individuals experience STEM courses and careers. Yet, when it comes to understanding how gender biases impact them personally, many of the undergraduates are conflicted or less certain. Over the course of the year, they often struggle to view specific incidents - often related to working in male-dominated groups, not feeling confident, not having one’s voice heard, not finding a mentor, being treated differently than male peers, or facing other struggles in STEM spaces - as being related to gender biases or a product of gender inequality. While the leaders demonstrate a growing understanding of gender inequity in STEM as personal and problematic, they sometimes voice a concern that seeing their personal experiences through a gender lens can be disempowering. This study seeks to understand if and how undergraduates are 1) interested in changing gender dynamics in the STEM fields, 2) see themselves as change agents, and 3) are actively engaged in attempts to make change.


©2020 All Academic, Inc.   |   Privacy Policy