Critically examining chemistry culture to support adoption of multiculturally inclusive practices
Effective Years: 2022-2027
The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program is a National Science Foundation-wide activity that offers awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education, to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization, and to build a foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research. This CAREER project aims to investigate the experiences of persons excluded because of ethnicity or race (PEERs) in STEM and guide change efforts in the culture of chemistry degree programs. Scholarly literature demonstrates that programs and resources designed to support diversity, inclusion, and equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields have not achieved equity in outcomes for PEERs. The study builds from the theory that achieving equitable outcomes in STEM will require transformation at the systemic level, including values, assumptions, and behaviors. Understanding chemistry culture and its influence on PEERs’ experiences will help to catalyze systemic transformation around diversity, equity, and inclusion in chemistry.
Using qualitative methods, the research will solicit PEERs’ experiences with chemistry culture. Implicit values, behaviors, and assumptions that influence visible behaviors, structures, and systems in the discipline will be analyzed. Understanding these experiences will contribute to a generalized understanding of chemistry culture that can be used to inform change efforts that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. Counterstories will also be developed to elevate individualized accounts that challenge existing systems and structures in chemistry. Education activities include the development of a STEM graduate course based on research findings. The course will support graduate students in critical examination of habitual practices that reproduce inequity, endeavoring to shift existing behaviors and build capacity for implementing culturally inclusive and contextually relevant practices. The impacts of this course will be studied over time to enhance understanding of effective, equity-focused instructional practices. This award is funded in part under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2). This project is also funded by the EHR Core Research (ECR) program, which supports work that advances fundamental research on STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development. In addition, this project is supported by the Racial Equity in STEM Education program (EHR Racial Equity), which supports projects that advance racial equity in STEM education and workforce development through research and practice.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.