Some Issues Related to Inclusive STEM Culture from The Breakthrough Inclusive Action Toolkit

The Breakthrough Inclusive Action Toolkit is a resource developed by Science Friday and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to provide guidance for advancing STEM inclusion. Full Toolkit document.

Below, we borrow from the Toolkit to offer brief descriptions of issues of potential relevance to partners and participants in the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project. We encourage partners and participants to download the Toolkit to explore these topics further. Additional references are also provided within the Toolkit.

Marginalization is a state of exclusion where a person or a group’s participation in society, rights, power, and/or privilege is limited.

Minoritization is the social construction of underrepresentation and subordination in social institutions that is imposed in certain situations and institutional environments.

Underrepresentation denotes that the representation of certain groups of people in science and engineering education and employment differs from their representation in the U.S. population.

Conscious (i.e., explicit) and unconscious (i.e., implicit) bias impact the educational experiences of marginalized, minoritized, and underrepresented students.

People with personal identities including (dis)ability, neurodiversity, and LGBTQ+ experience bias and discrimination in science and engineering contexts.

These issues (e.g., marginalization, etc.) can impact retention and/or completion of an individual’s educational and professional experiences.

Inequity in funding processes and outcomes have been shown to disproportionately affect women and minoritized groups. Word-of-mouth dissemination and recruitment tactics are intrinsically biased.

The idea of fit is often used to eliminate non-majority applicants.

Recommendation letters have been found to be subject to biases that favor males and more privileged applicants with connections to powerful letter writers.

Microaggressions are brief phrases or actions that communicate (sometimes subtle) slights or insults against a group of people (e.g., Where are you “really” from?).

Gaslighting is when a hearer tells a speaker that the speaker’s claim isn’t that serious, or that they’re overreacting, being too sensitive, or not interpreting events properly (e.g., They didn’t mean anything by it.)

Weed out practices and courses disproportionately lead first-generation college students and students of color to change their major or even their institution.

Culturally relevant practices that connect curriculum, instruction, and assessment to the experiences, cultures, and traditions of students from racial and ethnic minorities can provide educational benefits to all students.

The contributions of women, Black, Indigenous, people of color, and those with LGBTQ+ identities are often omitted from STEM learning experiences.