The Diversity Symposium
The Diversity Symposium that on October 1st through the 5th, opens a conversation of the lack of diversity in the STEM fields and calls for inclusion-oriented ideas on making the STEM fields more easily accessible for minorities. Diversity Symposium at CSU represents a valuable week filled with diversity and inclusions. Guest speakers and professors from our community and beyond talk about the many ways the symposium encompasses widespread range of ideas on how to include diversity into our life on our campus. One of the presenters was Dr. Jessica Hagman, a mathematics professor who has been looking into the lack of diversity in the STEM fields of our university and how they compare to those in other higher education institutions. Dr. Hagman’s mission is to develop ways “that identifies aspects of calculus programs that successfully support a more diverse population of students and supports mathematics departments to improve their programs.”
Research shows that Education is widely inconsiderate of minorities
Dr. Hagman has made a lot of interesting research that prove the lack of diversity in these fields, which to then she asked the public to open a conversation and ponder about the different ways of inclusion and widespread openness to the topic at hand. Hagman states there is a flaw in teaching the STEM fields because they are developed by a generation of people that don’t necessarily consider the individual experiences that come with learning such subjects as those in the STEM fields. Third culture kids, and others coming from different backgrounds will not have the same initial access to information as those who are considered to be a majority.
“It is difficult to present this information in different ways because we aren’t really taught how to teach this to minorities, so studies like this, as well as student feedback really add onto the experience of inclusion in fields like calculus and engineering,” said math professor Mark Shoemaker. Shoemaker was attending this session of the symposium hoping to gain ideas on what to change in the classroom in order to enhance the educational opportunities of diverse students in his classroom. Minorities, and students of diverse backgrounds must be considered in order to teach something as dynamic as calculus.
One of the most important findings of Hagman’s study is the dichotomy of what is perceived to be good practice in the industry and how it is actually affecting the call for diversity. The idea of placing student in the course they would do best at is something that STEM courses strive to do, without considering that separating the good from the bad make the good better and vice versa. Hagman argues that there needs to be new ways to engage diverse population and offer students the same resources.
“I never really thought about it, but in my school, we had AP classes which prepared me for the calculus classes I had to take here, but not everyone has that in high school. Rewarding students that had an advantage and not doing the same with those less privileged just makes the cap bigger and bigger,” said Business student Rachel Fetzer, who attended the panel.
Hagman suggested that the difficulty in teaching minorities might be because STEM fields are underdeveloped in sharing the fields with all of its students rather than the lack of interests from minorities like females and people of color. There’s also a huge portion of the student body with hidden diversities, like first generation students.
It is difficult to present this information in different ways because we aren’t really taught how to teach this to minorities…
Education is often not talked about when it comes to third culture kids. We overlook the different educational experiences that TCKs have to go through in their lifetime, this in itself makes TCKs unique when it comes to teaching them as a part of a generalized audience. The STEM fields struggle with bringing these mechanisms into practice, along with the inclusion of diverse students, both visible and hidden. Studies like the ones Hagman presented to us are very valuable in starting the conversation about educational diversity.
There are many flaws in this research as well. One of those flaws being that the data sample of the students at Colorado State University was only compared to five other higher education institutions. But nonetheless, the panel, like many others in the diversity symposium, really focused on starting conversations about diversity that we might not think about in our daily lives, nd that is the most important part of such events.