Gender Bias and STEM Campaign

Does gender bias impact students’ attitudes and successes in STEM education?

Current trends and research in education emphasize science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and STEM career training. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that there will be more than 1.4 million job openings in computing-related fields by 2020. As STEM training becomes more essential, it is important to recognize the gender gap in both STEM careers and education. For example, girls make up 56% of total AP test-takers but only 19% of AP computer science test-takers. At the university level, women earn 57% percent of all undergraduate degrees, but only 19% of all undergraduate computer and information sciences degrees.1 

Hopefully by now you have heard about Hear Me’s current campaign where we are asking students about the impact gender bias does or doesn’t have on STEM education and careers. As part of this campaign, Hear Me will be interviewing around 150 students from schools and community organizations, of all ages.

For this campaign, we are adding a new partnership – Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science. We are welcoming volunteers from SCS to interview alongside us; ten staff, faculty, and students have already trained with Hear Me to understand our equipment and best practices.

After the winter break, they will be visiting schools and organizations with us to interview students. Stories gathered through this campaign will be shared with the CMU SCS community, superintendents, and other interested audiences.

This is new for us in several big ways:

1) We have never worked this closely with the CMU community, because it is drastically different from the research and robots surrounding us. This has been a disconnect for Hear Me since its start, and we are happy to be intentionally connecting Hear Me’s work with CMU community.

2) We have never trained adults to join us in the interviewing process! Typically, we train 1-2 adults to do interviews with students they work with. This time, a bunch of adults will be interviewing students on one topic, and visiting schools and organizations together.

3) We have never had an audience also be part of the interviewing work. For most of our work, we have an audience that only receives information at the end of the project, and commits to connecting voices to decisions. These volunteers will be much more integrated through the whole process - helping to capture students’ experiences related to STEM and gender bias, sharing their experiences as interviewers back with their peers at CMU, and hearing the final products as presented to the CMU SCS audience.

By working more closely with SCS, we are hoping that these stories will build bridges between K-12 youth in Greater Pittsburgh and the CMU SCS community.  We are also asking how adults can help young people recognize and close gender gaps, and we want your participation. 

If your school or organization is in the Greater Pittsburgh region and is interested in having Hear Me visit to interview students, please contact Jessica Kaminsky. We will be conducting do the majority of the interview visits in January and February, but it’s never too early to schedule a visit! If you are outside of this region but want to contribute, students can respond to the questions listed on our website and upload their media to the Hear Me website.