Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges: Turning Research into Real-Life Strategies

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Gender Equality in STEM

SCWIST members recently participated in the 2023 Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges (BBBB) Conference in Toronto, focusing on gender equality in STEM. 

Co-hosted by Engendering Success in STEM and the Institute for Gender and the Economy, the event featured expert speakers discussing several key topics in today’s STEM landscape, including gender-diverse educational environments, the economy’s gender implications, anti-bias training, and international perspectives on gender in STEM.

By actively participating in these crucial dialogues, we can ensure SCWIST stays informed about the latest research and can continue to contribute to shaping the evolving landscape of gender equality in STEM fields.

Research for Gender Equality in STEM

The day commenced with a keynote address by Sarah Kaplan, Director of Gender and the Economy, stressing the imperative of an inclusive economy and countering biases in product design for diversity and societal inclusion.

The first panel, “Barriers and Bridges to Inclusion,” featured Dr. Sapna Cheryan, Dr. Steven Spencer, Dr. Nilanjana Dasgupta, and Dr. Jennifer Steele. They spoke on the need for feminine defaults to balance masculine biases, transitioning from Social Identity Threat to Identity Safety, social vaccines, belonging and community and biases and perceptions in the intersection of gender and race in STEM.

The second session, “Engendering Success in STEM: International Perspectives,” showcased insights from Dr. Takako Hashimoto, Dr. Glenn Adams, and Dr. Toni Schmader. The discussion highlighted the increased number of women entering STEM fields in Japan, how attitudes are shaping the gender gap in STEM and how stereotypes affect women and men globally.

The third panel, “The Promise and Perils of Anti-Bias Training,” featured Dr. Edward Chang, Dr. Ivuoma Onyeador, Dr. Patricia Devine, and Dr. Hilary Bergsieker. Their talk focused on the need for targeted, recurrent diversity training, the key elements companies need to incorporate for successful DEI goals, unconscious biases and tailored DEI training.

The day concluded with “Engendering Success in STEM: Looking Back and Thinking Forward,” presenting insights from Project CLIMB, PRISM, SINC, and RISE focusing on children’s gender stereotypes, boosting STEM career appeal, professional networks and countering the decline of women in engineering.

Key takeaways

The conference proved to be exceptionally engaging, with each panel and speaker delivering valuable insights. We commend Engendering Success in STEM and the Institute for Gender and the Economy for fostering an environment like the BBBB conference to share these impactful research outcomes. 

This research will play a pivotal role in reshaping mindsets within STEM, offering valuable insights that will drive positive change in the field. We look forward to sharing and building upon these opportunities. 

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