What Are the Cultural Norms of STEM and Why Do They Matter?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Resource Type:
Research Brief | Research Products
Environment Type: 
Media and Technology, Public Programs, Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks, Exhibitions, Informal/Formal Connections
Administration/Leadership/Policymakers | General Public | Educators/Teachers | Museum/ISE Professionals | Scientists | Evaluators | Learning Researchers
Education and learning science | General STEM
Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE)

When everybody engaging in STEM is expected to adhere to dominant cultural norms established by the populations that have historically participated in and institutionalized STEM—that is, male, white, western, and privileged, some may feel like outsiders, even though others will find them familiar and comfortable. This can shape perceptions about who has expertise and/or belongs in STEM fields. STEM programs and science representations must encourage and support participation by leveraging audiences' personal experiences and cultural practices.

About this resource:

This is a practice brief produced by CAISE's Broadening Participation in STEM Task Force to help informal STEM education (ISE) and science communication groups reflect on and strengthen their efforts to broaden participation in STEM. It is part of a larger professional development toolkit, developed for those who lead staff or train professionals within the ISE and science communication fields.

Using practice briefs:

Practice briefs are intended to seed reflective discussions about professional practices, and be read in advance of group discussions among staff, colleagues, or trainees. They include ideas to consider, recommendations for action, further reading, and links to more tools. The task force recommends organizing multiple discussions, each using one or two briefs that participants read in advance.

Funding Program: 
Award Number: 

Team Members

Sunshine MenezesSunshine MenezesAuthor
Rabiah MayasAuthor
Olivia AmbrogioOlivia AmbrogioAuthor

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