“Biases are destructive for those who apply them as well as those being judged based on stereotypes,” states a dispatch from the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Implicit biases have hampered advancements in work force diversity for decades. Most people hold implicit assumptions that influence their judgments and perceptions of others. People sometimes apply the biases unintentionally, which results in actions or the absence of action that can reduce the quality of the work force and create unfair and destructive environments.
The Obama administration has made STEM education and women in STEM a priority with programs that aim at increasing the participation of women, girls and other under-represented minorities in STEM-related fields by boosting engagement in formal and informal environments, encouraging mentoring and supporting efforts to retain women in the STEM work force.
Christine Royce, department chair and professor of teacher education at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, states that this unconscious bias starts in middle-school and, even worse, is often perpetuated by the girls themselves. “What happens is they don’t want to be perceived as being too smart, and science is a smart subject,” Royce says of middle school aged girls. “Often, they will back off on their own, even if they have an interest in science. They are worried about their image, their popularity. It's a twofold problem: Teachers might tend to call on boys more, but boys may be volunteering more in class at that point because girls start to self select out of answering questions or wanting to volunteer.”
Read the full interview with Christine Royce.
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