Posts tagged ‘deficiency’

The Rhetoric of Deficiency in STEM

By js, 8 September, 2008, No Comment

Reading the article Increasing the Representation of Women and People of Color
in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM):
Scan and Synopsis of Approaches and Opportunities. at

Shifting the burden
In the existing framework, it is women and people of color—and their lack of skill—that become the problem, and the solution is to fix them by equipping them with the necessary STEM skills. Researchers using the pipeline model to understand and address underrepresentation have asked: “What do women and people of color need to be successful scientists?” But what if we asked: “What does science need to be successfully inclusive?” Suddenly, it is science itself that needs to change. The burden of responsibility is no longer placed on individual women and people of color, but on the field itself. While barriers to the full participation of women and people of color exist in many areas, they are especially extreme in STEM, suggesting that we must look closely at issues within these fields to understand the underrepresentation within them.

I am seeing this more and more. This is the rhetoric of deficiency which others such as Yosso discuss. This is definitely something worth pursuing further.

In order to fully incorporate the perspectives of women and people of color, in STEM fields, women and people of color can not be simply “fit into” science as it is; science itself must change. For this to happen, in turn, we need to bridge the gap between our understanding of the culture of science – either as developed by those who study it, or as understood by scientists and practitioners themselves – and the practices of implementing the reform necessary to increase diversity in STEM fields. Some of the most interesting answers may be revealed through the stories and reflections of those scientists – women and people of color – that have “made it” through the system.