What is the finding?
Currently most implicit bias trainings help the audience (a) to realize that they have implicit biases, and (b) to demonstrate how these biases affect their decisions in ways about which they were previously not aware. Microaggression trainings help people to understand the effects of comments even when the perpetrators’ intent was not meant to be derogatory or hurtful. However, researchers at a recent meeting of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). pointed out that these trainings often leave participants confused as to how to proceed. There is often a backlash by audience members when they learn that they have implicit bias or have upset someone else with a microaggression. Presenters need to be trained on how to respond to this backlash. And we as a community need to become more aware of the unintended consequences of these trainings.
Few researchers have studied the impact of the media’s portrayal of engineers and computer scientists. Yet the media may have explicit and implicit effects on girls’ and women’s ability to identify with these careers and see themselves as belonging in them. Researchers, marketers, public relations professionals, and media outlets could work together to improve this. One recent positive example is the General Electric commercial featuring Millie Dresselhaus.
Why is this important?
Girls and women are severely underrepresented in computing and engineering, despite efforts to address this underrepresentation. Research in these areas will improve our understanding of why the problem exists and how we as researchers, practitioners, educators, and funding agencies can improve workforce diversity.
Why did they need the MagLab?
Roxanne Hughes' research on STEM identity for girls was recognized as expertise critical to the construction of this AAUW research agenda.
Details for researchers
- View or download the expert-level Science Highlight, MagLab Diversity Director setting National research agenda
This research was funded by the following grants: G.S. Boebinger (NSF DMR-1157490)
For more information, contact Roxanne Hughes.