Research on women with disabilities in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines is scarce. That's why the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a one-year grant to APA's Women's Programs Office to conduct a multi-wave survey of scientists and educators working in the area of STEM education.
Shari Miles-Cohen, PhD, senior director of APA's Women's Programs Office and co-chair of APA's Women with Disabilities in STEM Education Research Agenda Development Project, says the project's goal is to establish a five-year research agenda to identify barriers and promote successful outcomes for women with disabilities in STEM education.
The grant also funded an October workshop, held at Gallaudet University, that brought together scientists, educators, students, advocates and representatives from the federal government. Workshop participants reviewed the results of the APA survey that identified factors that may help and hinder women with disabilities who want to pursue STEM careers, including faculty interaction, creative problem-solving and social support.
They also looked at the literature on other underrepresented groups in STEM education and discussed the ways in which psychological concepts, such as implicit bias and stereotype threat, may play a role in the educational outcomes for women with disabilities in STEM. The agenda will be presented to NSF this spring.
"The STEM disciplines are really one of the most challenging areas for advanced education that one could enter," says Maria Dolores Cimini, PhD, co-chair of the project's organizing committee. "They're very intricate, they're very complex and they actually require in my view the most creativity in addressing challenges that may be encountered."