May 10, 2021

Prioritizing Diverse Voices, Experiences in STEM

Eden Badertscher, Pam Buffington to speak at national briefing on diversity in STEM

EDC’s Eden Badertscher and Pam Buffington will discuss the necessity of diversifying STEM education efforts in the United States in an upcoming congressional briefing sponsored by EDC and the STEM Education Coalition. The online briefing, to be held on May 12, is free and open to the public.

“Access to STEM careers is a social justice issue,” says Badertscher, who is co-principal investigator of the NSF INCLUDES project STEM Opportunities in Prison Settings (STEM-OPS). “STEM innovations cannot truly improve life for everyone if diverse voices and experiences are not considered essential in the lab, in research settings, and in STEM leadership.”

The topic of diversifying STEM has special relevance now. The coronavirus pandemic has revealed the central nature of STEM innovations in our daily lives, while protests for racial justice have illustrated the persistent disparities in educational opportunity, access to technology, and health outcomes across the country.

Pam Buffington, director of Rural STEM Initiatives at EDC, hopes that her remarks to lawmakers can inspire greater investments in efforts that recruit and retain underrepresented populations in STEM fields, including diverse and underserved members of rural communities.

“Science, mathematics, engineering, and technology have been a part of rural life for generations,” Buffington says. “This briefing is an opportunity to prioritize the voices from those communities that have often been overlooked in national conversations about who does STEM and what STEM looks like. Rural voices can, and do, enrich equity-oriented STEM efforts and outcomes.”

Other speakers at the event, titled “Prioritizing ‘Overlooked’ Populations in STEM: An Essential Element to Societal and Economic Recovery and Transformation,” include Shelley Gretlein, vice president of Portfolio Business Software Strategy, National Instruments; Dr. Roberta Rincon, associate director of research, Society of Women Engineers; Dr. Calvin Mackie, president and founder, STEM NOLA; and James Brown, executive director, STEM Education Coalition.

Register for the online briefing here.