The Notorious RCG: Race, Class and Gender in STEM (short-term, spring 2021)

Organized by Rob Dorit, Biological Sciences, and Mary Harrington, Neuroscience

Project Description

Despite its claims to objectivity and universality, the practice of science—and the training in that practice—is embedded in a matrix of historical precedents and social relations. And like all other forms of embedded knowledge, recent events have prompted an overdue examination of the ways in which access to and success in the sciences is impeded by long-standing structures, traditions and biases.

This short-term Kahn seeks to identify the obstacles and impediments that stand in the way of students and colleagues from traditional underrepresented groups who have chosen careers in STEM. While we recognize the importance both of identifying the structural barriers and of acknowledging the at times troubling history of our fields, this Kahn is specifically focused on concrete actions that might be implemented moving forward. Our hope is that we might begin to articulate ways in which our courses, our labs and our departments can be made more welcoming and more supportive to all students, but in particular to those from underrepresented or traditionally marginalized groups. We understand that no single solution to these long-standing challenges exist.  We also realize that the path forward will include a mixture of symbolic and concrete actions, and a blend of short and long-term initiatives. Despite the complexity of the task, we are convinced that an afternoon spent in the company of colleagues and students invested in addressing these challenges will move us forward.

The seminar is thus hoping to bring together faculty and students primarily (though not exclusively) from Div III to think about how to make inclusion and representation integral to the STEM curriculum. Without predetermining the outcome of our discussions, topics might range from a more explicit inclusion of the contribution of scientists from underrepresented groups (women, gender non-binary, trans, BIPOC) to a possible course on Race, Class, and Gender in STEM that might rotate from one Div III department to another on a biennial basis, to membership in national initiatives such as Being Human In STEM.  Our hope is that this short-term Kahn will seed an important discussion on this campus, and will initiate concrete measures meant to address problems of inequity, diversity and representation in STEM education.

Project Fellows

  • Lara Al-Hariri, Chemistry, UMass-Amherst
  • Michael Barresi, Biological Sciences/Neuroscience
  • Herbert Bernstein, Natural Science, Hampshire College
  • Zoe Birnhak '21, Sociology
  • Greg de Wet, Geosciences
  • Kadambari Devarajan, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, UMass-Amherst
  • Nathan Derr, Biological Sciences
  • Patricia DiBartolo, Psychology
  • Rob Dorit, Biological Sciences, Organizing Fellow
  • Kris Dorsey, Engineering
  • Christopher Gole, Mathematics
  • Dave Gorin, Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Suzanne Gottschang, Anthropology
  • Mary Harrington, Neuroscience, Organizing Fellow
  • Sheila Jaswal, HSTEM, Amherst College
  • Laura Katz, Biological Sciences
  • Scott LaCombe, Statistical and Data Sciences
  • Dana Leibsohn, Art and Latin American Studies
  • Tanya Leise, Mathematics and Statistics, Amherst College
  • Minh Ly, Institutional Research
  • Megan Lyster, Wurtele Center
  • Lisa Mangiamele, Biological Sceinces/Neuroscience
  • Miranda McCarvel, Jacobson Center
  • Sarah Mazza, Geosciences
  • Sarah Moore, Engineering
  • Joyce Palmer-Fortune, Physics
  • Marney Pratt, Biological Sciences
  • Candice Price, Mathematics
  • Riccardo Racicot, Biological Sciences
  • Zara Woo '22, Neuroscience
  • Nancy Jimenez Zigler, Jandon Center