NERS Colloquia: Professional Cultures and Inequality in STEM

Erin Cech, Assistant Professor & Associate Graduate Director, U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

WHERE: Virtual

WHEN: September 4, 2020 4:00 pm-5:00 pmADD TO CALENDAR

NERS Colloquia: Professional Cultures and Inequality in STEM: Erin Cech, Assistant Professor & Associate Graduate Director, U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

Can the culture of STEM help reproduce inequality? The professional
cultures of STEM, which give each discipline its particular “feel” and
unite discipline members under a taken-for-granted system of meanings
and values, are not benign. Drawing from several NSF-funded survey and
interview-based studies, I argue that these professional cultures can
have built within them disadvantages for women, racial/ethnic
minorities, and LGBTQ persons in STEM. In this talk, I will discuss
the role of three particular cultural ideologies—schemas of scientific
excellence, depoliticization, and the meritocratic ideology—in
producing these disadvantages. I will end by explaining why decisions
that partially rely on assessments of individuals’ “fit” with
professional cultures are particularly important to critically examine
for their potential to contribute to inequality.