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Special Issue "Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM for a Sustainable Future"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2022) | Viewed by 5118

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Anita Tabacco
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Leading Guest Editor
Department of Mathematical Sciences, Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy
Interests: harmonic and functional analysis; engineering education
Dr. Gavin Duffy
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Assistant Guest Editor
School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Technological University Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Interests: engineering education; spatial ability in STEM learning; spatial ability development and gender; problem-based learning and intellectual development
Dr. Alicia García-Holgado
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Assistant Guest Editor
Department of Computer Science, University of Salamanca, 37008 Salamanca, Spain
Interests: social responsibility and inclusion; gender in STEM; gender and ICT; technological ecosystems; knowledge management; human–computer interaction
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Rachel Riedner
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Columbian College of Arts & Sciences, The George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052, USA
Interests: rhetoric and composition; science writing; global feminisms

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

There is evidence that diversity plays a crucial role in both companies and academia related to the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Forbes, in a dedicated survey addressed to 321 executives at large global enterprises, found that is commonly agreed that a diverse and inclusive workforce is among the most important factors for driving innovation and promoting creativity (85% of respondents). This can be partially explained considering the teamwork nature of STEM. That is, only in very few cases can new solutions rely on a single genius, and usually innovations are shared and built upon teamwork. Therefore, fostering different views and reducing a homogeneous environment is key to a sustainable future. Indeed, gender equality is one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals: “Gender bias is undermining our social fabric and devalues all of us. It is not just a human rights issue; it is a tremendous waste of the world’s human potential. By denying women equal rights, we deny half the population a chance to live life at its fullest. Political, economic and social equality for women will benefit all the world’s citizens. Together we can eradicate prejudice and work for equal rights and respect for all.”—Goal 5. As a sub-goal, the importance of giving women access to technology is highlighted.

Ensuring diversity becomes crucial for the recruitment steps into STEM studies and careers. Evidence suggests that the number of women resigning from technological job positions remains unacceptably high. For example, in western countries, only 20% or less of graduating engineers are female, and often fewer than 10% are part of the engineering workforce.

To increase diversity, equality, and inclusion in STEM education, many different approaches can be implemented at different levels and to different target groups. This Special Issue aims to address mainly research related to:

  • Theoretical insight into the reasons for this imbalance;
  • Empirical evidence, experimental approaches, and best practices of recruitment and retention in STEM education;
  • Ideas and policy to support gender balance careers in a STEM context.

Prof. Dr. Anita Tabacco
Dr. Gavin Duffy
Dr. Alicia García-Holgado
Prof. Dr. Rachel Riedner
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • STEM education
  • STEM career
  • gender diversity
  • gendered innovation
  • equality, diversity, and inclusion

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
Impact of Exposure to a Counter-Stereotypical STEM Television Program on Children’s Gender- and Race-Based STEM Occupational Schema
Sustainability 2022, 14(9), 5631; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14095631 - 07 May 2022
Viewed by 305
Abstract
Gender and racial diversity in STEM has been deemed an essential need for a sustainable future, but girls and children from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds continue to show less interest in STEM than their White and male counterparts. Media has been shown to reflect [...] Read more.
Gender and racial diversity in STEM has been deemed an essential need for a sustainable future, but girls and children from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds continue to show less interest in STEM than their White and male counterparts. Media has been shown to reflect children’s occupational schema from an early age, and therefore might be used to help broaden children’s beliefs about who participates in STEM. In this field-based pre/post-experimental study, children in kindergarten and first grades (N = 48, 62.5% female, Mage = 6.57) viewed episodes of a STEM-focused educational television series that features a diverse group of protagonists two to three times a week for eight weeks. Their occupational schema were measured before and after exposure. Results suggest there was no quantifiable change in their attitudes. However, qualitative analysis of their open-ended responses sheds light on how children’s beliefs about who participates in STEM are shaped, i.e., by both mediated and real-world exposure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM for a Sustainable Future)
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Article
Establishing Social Learning in an Engineering MOOC: Benefits for Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering Education
Sustainability 2022, 14(9), 5472; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14095472 - 02 May 2022
Viewed by 408
Abstract
Recent Higher Education Statistics Agency data shows that only 20% of engineering students at UK Universities are female, despite the hard work being undertaken by many educational institutions to address this gender imbalance via outreach events and special interventions focussing on girls/women in [...] Read more.
Recent Higher Education Statistics Agency data shows that only 20% of engineering students at UK Universities are female, despite the hard work being undertaken by many educational institutions to address this gender imbalance via outreach events and special interventions focussing on girls/women in STEM. It has been argued that student-centred teaching methods, together with changes in the engineering curriculum itself, which emphasise the social, creative, and human-centred aspects of the discipline, are required to effect real change in engaging with those from traditionally underrepresented groups. Through analysing quantitative data on age, gender, learner type, and commenting rates in peer-to-peer discussions, we examine the development and delivery of an engineering MOOC, before, during, and after COVID-19-related lockdowns in the UK, to identify what aspects of online learning might be harnessed to improve diversity in engineering education. The results show that the MOOC attracted a better gender balance than reported for UK-based in-person engineering programmes. In addition, we show that careful structuring of discussion prompts encouraged higher levels of social learning. We recommend the continued use of interactive and discursive elements within a blended learning environment to positively impact diversity and inclusion in engineering education specifically, and STEM education in general. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM for a Sustainable Future)
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Article
Solving Ecological Problems through Physical Computing to Ensure Gender Balance in STEM Education
Sustainability 2022, 14(9), 4924; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14094924 - 20 Apr 2022
Viewed by 258
Abstract
Research and practice have shown that female students are less interested in engineering and programming. This is related to gender stereotypes and technological self-efficacy. Research has also pointed out that students in rural schools tend to do less well in STEM subjects and [...] Read more.
Research and practice have shown that female students are less interested in engineering and programming. This is related to gender stereotypes and technological self-efficacy. Research has also pointed out that students in rural schools tend to do less well in STEM subjects and are less likely to pursue STEM studies than their peers from large cities. Previous studies have highlighted the benefits of hands-on real-world-related engineering projects by building connections with students’ interests and technology while giving them something exciting to focus on. This study is aimed at investigating whether and how students’ individual characteristics (such as attitudes toward engineering and technology, motivation, and technology anxiety) are associated with rural school students’ engagement, gender differences, and inclusion in sustainable ecological engineering activities with Arduino microcontrollers. Surveys were conducted before and after the activity with pupils of a rural lower secondary school (ages 13–15). The results show that, female students’ initial attitude toward engineering and technology was significantly less positive than that of male students. Despite being novices in physical computing, a whole group of pupils were intrinsically motivated while performing these activities. The findings of this study provide transferable insights into practical STEM education that may strengthen students’ engagement, motivation, and achievement in STEM. The implications of the results of this study can be useful for a better understanding of the individual factors of students that influence future engineering activity design and STEM career selection opportunities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM for a Sustainable Future)
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Article
Investigating the Experiences, Beliefs, and Career Intentions of Historically Underrepresented Science and Engineering Undergraduates Engaged in an Academic and Internship Program
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1486; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031486 - 27 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 557
Abstract
Women and students of marginalized race/ethnicity continue to be underrepresented in many science and engineering fields, and access to special programs, mentors, and internships may influence awareness, intention, and persistence in STEM fields. This mixed-methods case study investigated the experiences, beliefs, and career [...] Read more.
Women and students of marginalized race/ethnicity continue to be underrepresented in many science and engineering fields, and access to special programs, mentors, and internships may influence awareness, intention, and persistence in STEM fields. This mixed-methods case study investigated the experiences, beliefs, and career intentions of thirteen undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups in the United States as they engaged in a federally funded grant program, “Sustainable Futures”. The program consisted of online courses, workshops, and a summer internship, intended to increase awareness, interest, and diverse participation in bioeconomy-related industries. The expectancy-value theory of achievement motivation theoretical framework guided this investigation of students’ changes in beliefs about bioproducts, bioenergy, the bioeconomy, and their career intentions. Program courses helped students develop skills and knowledge and program internships inspired and reinforced their career directions. Following program activities, students expressed greater intention to pursue bioproduct/bioenergy-related careers and articulated their career intentions with greater specificity. This study provides insight into the viability of focused academic and professional development programs as a practical method to promote students’ awareness, beliefs, and intentions to participate in careers in a sustainable bioeconomy, particularly across diverse populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM for a Sustainable Future)
Article
Can a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Approach Enhance Students’ Mathematics Performance?
Sustainability 2022, 14(1), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14010379 - 30 Dec 2021
Viewed by 485
Abstract
The STEM approach is a student-centred teaching and learning process that involves an inquiry process in problem-solving questions. This study was conducted to examine the effectiveness of the STEM approach in enhancing students’ mathematics performance. The study used a quasi-experimental design of unbalanced [...] Read more.
The STEM approach is a student-centred teaching and learning process that involves an inquiry process in problem-solving questions. This study was conducted to examine the effectiveness of the STEM approach in enhancing students’ mathematics performance. The study used a quasi-experimental design of unbalanced groups through the pre-test and post-test for treatment and control groups. The instrument included a set of questionnaires on student attitudes towards STEM implementation and the three-dimensional geometric shapes achievement test. The research samples included 14-year-old students from one of the private secondary schools in Kuching, which involved 68 students who were selected using purposive sampling. The results showed that student attitudes towards the implementation of the STEM approach were at a moderate level. In addition, the results illustrated a significant and moderate difference in mathematics performance between students who participated in the STEM approach and the conventional method using pre-test and post-test. The mean score of the post-test performance for the STEM approach was higher compared to the mean score of post-test performance for the conventional method. The results of the study demonstrated that the implementation of the STEM approach that involved both inquiry-based learning and problem-based learning was effective and able to improve the students’ academic performance. This can help teachers to vary their teaching and learning methods by increasing student interactions and engagement. Improvements can be made in the future by adding more research samples to expand the context of the study and prolong the treatment duration. Researchers can also add research variables in future studies by examining student interests and motivations towards the STEM approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM for a Sustainable Future)
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Article
Multimedia Analysis of Spanish Female Role Models in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
Sustainability 2021, 13(22), 12612; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212612 - 15 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 600
Abstract
Horizontal segregation in the higher education framework is a problem that goes up in the work environment. Women are assuming traditional gender roles due to phenomena such as the threat of stereotyping, which prevents them from opting for higher studies in science, technology, [...] Read more.
Horizontal segregation in the higher education framework is a problem that goes up in the work environment. Women are assuming traditional gender roles due to phenomena such as the threat of stereotyping, which prevents them from opting for higher studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This research work arises within the project W-STEM, “Building the Future of Latin America: Involving Women in STEM”. The research aims to investigate women’s academic and professional development in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through their personal experience in making career-related decisions. The research was developed by applying a qualitative method. During the year 2020, video semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty-one women professionals in the STEM field. Of the twenty-one participants, six are linked to science, eight to technology, fifteen to engineering and one to mathematics. Due to their research lines, some of them are located in more than one STEM area, for example, in technology and engineering. These women were interviewed about their choice of studies and training, their jobs, professional achievements, family and social environment and their perspective on the gender gap in STEM. They all agree on horizontal segregation and consider it necessary to motivate girls and young women to study what they like. Furthermore, they all show passion for their work. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM for a Sustainable Future)
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Article
An Analysis of LGBTQIA+ University Students’ Perceptions about Sexual and Gender Diversity
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 11786; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132111786 - 25 Oct 2021
Viewed by 1027
Abstract
The main objective of this study was to explore the perceptions of LGBTQIA+ students regarding sexual and gender diversity in the university context by (1) identifying conceptions about a being LGBTQIA+ student in the higher education context, (2) researching perceptions of the stigma [...] Read more.
The main objective of this study was to explore the perceptions of LGBTQIA+ students regarding sexual and gender diversity in the university context by (1) identifying conceptions about a being LGBTQIA+ student in the higher education context, (2) researching perceptions of the stigma and discrimination against, and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ students and (3) to recognize discourses and scenarios identified by students in the university context regarding sexual diversity and gender diversity, distinguishing their experiences in the classroom as well as in the university, with their peers and with their professors. This research was based on a quantitative method, the sample consisted of 171 students from the School of Medicine of a public university in the United States in the state of Texas. The results showed that there is currently a greater knowledge of the subject of sexual and gender diversity and of the spaces and resources offered by the university on the subject compared to previous years, however, it is found that knowledge is still limited and that this knowledge may possibly be due to the faculty in which they study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM for a Sustainable Future)
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