Although a liberal arts college, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) has a unique connection with STEM majors. Two SMCM students, Rose Young and Elizabeth Mulvey, are conducting research on women of color in STEM programs at academic institutions. There have been many inclusivity issues with regards to women in STEM fields, especially women of color. This research hopes to uncover factors that promote the success of these women in STEM programs. Under the guidance of Professor of Educational Studies Angela Johnson, these two high-achieving students are using the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to compare the inclusivity and success of women of color across college campuses. IPEDS shows statistical data on student demographics across a number of different campuses. They will use this information, cross-referenced with other variables to see how factors including institution diversity, support networks, and teacher-to-student ratio affect women of color in STEM. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation, via a Eureka Scientific, Inc. subaward to Dr. Johnson.
Along with these demographic figures, Rose and Elizabeth are also collecting ethnographic data and conducting interviews among women of color in STEM. They have attended a number of STEM focused conferences and events to collect this interview data. Both hope to better the success rate of women in STEM and find steps that colleges can take to better the student experience. This research is also being conducted with a sister school in England.
Both students showcase the St. Mary’s Way in the research that they are conducting. Rose Young is a sophomore, studying Math and Physics. Rose believes that due to SMCM’s small size, teacher interaction, and accepting culture, women in STEM fields succeed here. Also, during her interviews she found that the presence of updated collaboration rooms and group-focused STEM clubs on academic institutions increase the likelihood of student success. While working on this project, Rose is gaining experience in data analytics and interview skills, as well as a new appreciation for math. Rose wants to continue developing her research skills and pursue a career in Nuclear Engineering.
Elizabeth Mulvey is also a sophomore studying Physics, with a double minor in Education and English. With a past internship at NASA, Elizabeth is glad to gain experience in data entry and conducting anthropological interviews. She also enjoys being able to travel to different academic events and meet other like-minded women in STEM programs. Elizabeth hopes to shed more light on race and diversity issues associated with women of color in STEM programs at different colleges. She sees the potential moral applications of STEM in education and how it’s taught to people of color and different genders.
Both students will continue this research project into the Fall 2018 semester, including traveling to the sister school in England to compare data. Rose and Elizabeth are two of many SMCM students that are building a better future through sponsored research.