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ASU Launches New Center to Empower Women of Color in STEM

January 20, 2016

Tempe, AZ - Arizona State University today launched the Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology. The first-of-its-kind center, led by Dr. Kimberly A. Scott, will explore, identify, and create best practices to empower young women of color in school and college to succeed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Dr. Scott’s pathfinding work in this field includes programs being used in states from coast to coast and has drawn recognition from the White House for her efforts.

The center’s mission is to team up scholars, policy makers and practitioners to research and develop strategies that help break down the systemic barriers that prevent girls and women of color -- African American, Native American, Latina or Asian American, for example -- from studying in STEM fields and pursuing related careers.

“This is a critical goal that requires expertise, experience and brainpower from a variety of fields,” said Dr. Scott. “Our collective work will manifest into a larger and further reaching impact to benefit girls of color.”

The center will then provide these new strategies to universities, schools, corporations, and non-profits across the country and internationally to advance women in STEM. CGEST plans to make evidence based research accessible to policymakers and educators committed to expanding the pipeline of under-represented women in STEM. The center will also offer culturally responsive programs for girls of color and opportunities for scholars to apply research to help under-represented girls pursue a STEM education.

“ASU is committed to ensuring all qualified students have access to a quality education,” said ASU President Dr. Michael Crow. “CGEST’s work will enable more young girls to reach their fullest potential in science and math.”

Dr. Scott’s career began as an elementary and middle school teacher. CGEST emerged from her work to help minority girls study STEM, including her analysis of how social factors impact the academic development of girls, especially in science and math. Her research has helped shape how educators approach STEM education to ensure that children, especially girls, can succeed in those fields.

CGEST seeks to address why women of color are excluded from STEM opportunities. While many young girls often express interest in science and math, few continue their studies in the field. Three fourths of girls in middle school express a strong interest in science and math, yet only ten percent of girls will go on to earn a related bachelor’s degree. This often prevents women of color from pursing STEM jobs and excludes them from the field. As a result, they often are underrepresented in high-paying technology jobs.

The center hopes to highlight how the lack of women and minorities in science and technology is not just an economic problem, but also a social justice one. The research and tools provided by CGEST will assist policymakers in their decision making to support women of color to pursue STEM opportunities.

“Empowering women of color to enter STEM fields will help us address issues of both gender and racial equity,” said Dr. Scott. “Creating an environment where young girls succeed in science and math will help open many doors for their success.”

The new center will house many of ASU’s programs that help girls of color in STEM. This includes CompuGirls and the National STEM Collaborative. CompuGirls is a nationally recognized program currently in Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Jersey that introduces young girls of color in to science and technology. The National STEM Collaborative is a group of 27 universities and non-profit partners, lead by ASU, committed to scaling research-based best skills and knowledge, resources and practices on access, completion, and workforce development for women of color in STEM.

In the coming year, CGEST plans to co-host the First Annual Women of Color and STEM Entrepreneurship Conference and a Tribal College and Native American Women in STEM Convening.

About Arizona State University
ASU is a New American University, promoting excellence in its research and among its students, faculty and staff, increasing access to its educational resources and working with communities to positively impact social and economic development.

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