BREAKING BARRIERS: UNDERSTANDING THE OBSTACLES FACED BY AFRICAN WOMEN IN STEM IN TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Columbia University, New York.
More than ever before in the 21st century, women and girls are entering into the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). With the rapid integration of Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning into multidisciplinary aspects of academia, the workplace has found ways to integrate STEM competencies into employees work activities (Jang 2016). Encouraged by such an interest, the government of Trinidad and Tobago, with the backing of its National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST), have embarked on several projects such as the commissioning of Micro-science TT, to encourage the development of STEM fields locally (NIHERST 2013). Yet even with the rise in the popularity of STEM, and the growing educational achievement of women, there has not been a similar rise in representation amongst women of a diverse background (Corbett and Hill 2015). This is likely to be the case as African women in STEM fields continue to be unrepresented, and discriminated against, experiencing stints of microaggressions, gender bias, and injustices (Bankston 2017; Charleston et al., 2014). Bearing this in mind, the aim of this study is to examine the wage returns and wage gap of African women, trained and employed in STEM fields within Trinidad and Tobago’s Public and Private Sectors. This study finds the majority of African Women in STEM are single, have an average of 12 years of schooling, and more undereducated. This implies that, even though African women in STEM face many issues such as lower income and educational mismatch, they have greater working experience, as they may be entering to positions within the STEM labour market earlier. African women in STEM fields however tends to earn less if employed in a high-income job, but more if considered of either the Middle, or Working Class.
Bankston, A. 2017. “Overcoming obstacles for women in STEM.” Future of Research. https://doi.org/10.7490/f1000research.1114929.1
Charleston, L., Lang, N., Adserias, R., & Jackson, J. 2014. “Intersectionality and STEM: The Role of Race and Gender in the Academic Pursuits of African American Women in STEM.” Journal of Progressive Policy and Practice, 2(3):17-37.
Corbett, C. & Hill, C. 2015. Solving the Equation. Washington D.C: American Association of Women University (AAWU).
Jang, H. 2016. Identifying 21st Century STEM Competencies Using Workplace Data. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 25: 284-301. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-015-9593-1
National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST). 2013. “STI Popularisation.” http://www.niherst.gov.tt/scipop/scipop.html
THE STUDY OF TEMPORAL STRUCTURE IN STEM MENTORING PROGRAMS TO SUPPORT GENDER EQUALITY IN SCIENCE: A PROPOSAL OF A METHODOLOGICAL TOOL
University of Naplese Federico II, Italy
The study of time in the structuring of social life provides the opportunity to deepen the understanding of social actions, relationships, institutional and organizational dynamics, cultural models in society (Adam, 2004; Leccardi, 2005, 2009, 2013, 2014; Nowotny, 1988, 1994; Zerubavel 1985). In recent years, in particular, time in academia and research has become the subject of analysis by some scholars who have expressed problems for the change in the temporal regimes that regulate research and higher education (Gibbs et al. 2015; Felt 2009, 2016; Berg, Seeger, 2016; Stengers, 2017; Ylijoki and Mantyla 2003). This work focuses on the study of the temporal structure of academic and research work as a tool to support scientific paths. The paper describes the potential of using the Time Diary of Activities (TDA) in STEM mentoring programs. TDA is an innovative observation tool on how people organize their daily commitments. Its final form was inspired, albeit not literally, by the diary used by ISTAT in the "Use of Time" Survey (www.ISTAT.it). TDA's main strength lies in the possibility of knowing how each respondent makes use of the 24 hours of a day between the various daily activities, with a primary focus on the type of work activities performed within the "research work" macro-category. The information collected by TDA presents a highly high detail level - albeit of a quantitative nature - not comparable with data collected through the more traditional questionnaires with fixed questions.
Aside from this relevant feature, it has at least four main strengths when used in mentoring programs. The first allows to build, over time, a database that permits to relate the use of the time of different categories (working categories, but also gender-based or related to other aspects like age, territory), also obtaining historical series. The second concerns the tool's ability to represent an opportunity for self-evaluation and self-monitoring, capable of supporting individual strategic action. Third, the analysis of the diaries' information results is an important starting point to support the conduct of focus groups with participants in the mentoring program. This allows the socialization of important issues related to the use of time between the various members, further increasing participants' auto-awareness. Fourth, it gives the program organizers the possibility to rethink strategies and develop specific interventions to support the mentees' paths engaged in the mentoring process. The work describes TDA analysis results obtained in two mentoring programs for gender equality conducted in 2018/2019 and 2020/2021 at the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) among researchers and technologists.
WHAT MATTERS MOST TO MATH GENDER GAP? EVIDENCE FROM PISA DATA IN ITALY
INAPP - National Institute for Public Policy Analysis, Italy
Mathematical skills act as an important feature to explain some aspects of social inclusion and economic inequality. In this perspective the literature shows an increasing attention to the relationship between the mathematical skills and gender inequality in education and labor marker experience. Based on these arguments, the paper analyses the main factors behind the differences in test scores on mathematics subjects between male and female 15 years old students, performing the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition method (Blinder, 1973) on the data from the OECD PISA 2018 survey. In this context we support the hypothesis that the mathematical gender gap registered by Italian students is among the largest recorded in over 70 countries and that this gap is conditioned by non-cognitive elements. The study results confirm that the quality of the school environment, the socio-cultural context of reference and other non-cognitive elements that typically influence adolescent girls (the learning environment, self-efficacy in math learning, parental support, etc.) contribute to fueling the gender inequality in math test scores, even in the presence of the same characteristics observed with boys.
COGNITIVE AND NON-COGNITIVE FACTORS INFLUENCING THE NUMERACY GENDER GAP IN HIGHER EDUCATION
1Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA), Italia; 2Università di Trento
Numeracy is the ability to employ mathematical concepts and tools in everyday life in order to understand phenomena and make decisions. As such it is a crucial skill in successfully going through modern life and society. Large-scale competence assessment tests, such as TIMSS, PISA and PIAAC, have been developed to evaluate this skill across different countries and educational levels. The aim of these tools is not only to assess current educational and social policies within nations but also to prompt the development of new strategies, more targeted to overcome educational weaknesses and meet new labour market challenges.
Consistently among national and international evaluations, these competence assessment tests have underlined a steady underachievement of females in the mathematical domain (e.g., Borgonovi et al., 2018; Cook, 2018). This “gender gap”, which starts within primary and secondary education, persists in higher education with remarkable socio-economic repercussions, among which the significant low visibility of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) academic and work careers.
The first step to overcome this gap is by underlying its causes. Much research effort was devoted to identify lower-level cognitive causes of the gender disparity in numeracy scores on achievement tests. However, other factors beyond cognition also seem to explain part of these scores. One of these factors is personality as characterized by the Big Five traits (e.g., Borghans et al., 2016; Cerni et al., under review). Given that not only cognitive but also non-cognitive skills are found to be related with the gender gap, it is reasonable to think that also personality could play a role in explaining the differences in numeracy assessment scores between males and females.
Here we present preliminary data from a project examining this issue in the context of tertiary education. In this online study, undergraduate students, enrolled either in STEM or Humanities undergraduate courses, were presented with numerical cognitive tasks and a questionnaire evaluating the Big Five personality traits. Numeracy was assessed with a multiple-choice test on mathematical reasoning. The interplay between numerical cognitive skills and personality in relation to numeracy performance was investigated with a focus on the moderating effect of gender. The aim was to identify how individual dispositions affect the numeracy gender gap in higher education.
Borgonovi, F., Á. Choi and M. Paccagnella (2018). The evolution of gender gaps in numeracy and literacy between childhood and adulthood. OECD Education Working Papers, 184. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/0ff7ae72-en.
Borghans, L., Golsteyn, B. H., Heckman, J. J., & Humphries, J. E. (2016). What grades and achievement tests measure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(47), 13354-13359. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1601135113.
Cerni, T., Di Benedetto, A., & Rumiati, R.I. (under review). The contribution of personality and intelligence towards cognitive competences in higher education.
Cook, R. (2018). Gender differences in adult numeracy skills: what is the role of education? Educational Research and Evaluation, 24:6-7, 370-393. DOI: 10.1080/13803611.2018.1540992.
REFLECT – A TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAM TO PROMOTE GENDER EQUALITY IN SCHOOLS
University of Vienna, Austria
Despite formally equal educational opportunities for women and men, educational and occupational careers are still characterized by gender disparities rather than gender equality. Men are overrepresented in STEM fields and leadership positions, while women are frequently working in low-status jobs in the health and social sector. These differences already emerge during school time, when girls report lower academic self-concepts in STEM subjects than boys even after achievement is controlled for. Gender stereotypes conveyed by socializing agents are assumed to play an important role in maintaining gender differences in education. Teachers are important starting points for promoting gender equality in education as their attitudes and instructional practices are known to influence students’ motivation and performance substantially. To promote girls and boys equally in coeducational settings, teachers have to reflect on their own gender stereotypes. Moreover, they require knowledge about gender differences in education and about teaching methods to foster the motivation of all students regardless of their gender. However, gender stereotypes are rarely dealt with in general teacher education and training programs that build teachers’ competences for reflective coeducation are sparse. Against this backdrop, we present the teacher training program REFLECT that was developed to foster secondary school teachers’ competences for supporting students in developing their individual potentials without being restricted by gender stereotypes. REFLECT is theoretically based on the systemic actiotope model and aims to expand teachers’ objective action repertoire (knowledge, teaching methods) as well as their subjective action space (self-efficacy beliefs, implicit theories). The results of a pilot study show the effectiveness of REFLECT. Teachers’ objective action repertoire and subjective action space for promoting boys and girls equally increased, as did students’ knowledge of gender differences and perception of diversity fairness in the classroom. Implementing the contents of REFLECT in general teacher education could contribute to sustainably achieving gender equality in education.