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Building Inclusive STEM Collections: Books by BIPOC Authors (October 2022): STEM Diversity

By Hilary Dorsch Wong, Katherine A. Hicks, and David Kornreich

STEM Diversity

In Diversifying STEM, editors Ebony McGee and William Robinson adopt a theoretical framework for understanding the struggles of underrepresented students in STEM. Drawing from critical race theory and related sociological constructs, the editors and contributors argue that the presumed objectivity of scientific research can blind professors and administrators to institutional racism and its effect on students and practitioners in the sciences. While the final chapters posit a “way forward,” the focus is on barriers to be addressed. For discussion of specific initiatives or strategies to overcome such barriers, two other books merit consideration: Broadening Participation in STEM, edited by Zayika Wilson-Kennedy, Goldie Byrd, Eugene Kennedy, and Henry Frierson and Growing Diverse STEM Communities, also edited by Wilson-Kennedy and three others (Leyte Winfield, Gloria Thomas, and Linette Watkins). Less informed by theory, these two books detail specific initiatives and teaching practices implemented at various colleges and universities to address the dearth of BIPOC students who graduate in STEM fields. Most chapters in these books discuss initiatives at institutions with large populations of students from historically marginalized groups, including at historically Black colleges and universities. Retention is a recurring concern; many students from underrepresented groups either drop out of STEM majors or drop out altogether after their freshman year. Common themes include the importance of integrating active learning strategies (e.g., project-based learning, flipped classrooms) into freshman-level courses, integrating meaningful undergraduate research, providing summer bridge programs, and establishing formalized mentoring and peer-mentoring programs. Funding is also a recurring theme: while many projects described in these books are facilitated by grants from the National Science Foundation or the Department of Education, as chapter 1 of Growing Diverse STEM Communities points out, federal funding for STEM research at minority-friendly institutions is often comparatively lower than elsewhere.