The demand for professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) has been on the rise, which has led to growing emphasis on STEM education as a pathway to high paying jobs. But Black women and girls have largely been left out of these opportunities, even though research shows that Black girls’ competence in these subjects is on par with their peers. However, Black girls do differ in their interest and confidence in STEM subjects, which can negatively affect their performance in school and limit future educational or career options.
Research Scientist LaShawnda Lindsay is tackled this problem with Black Girls Create, a culturally responsive STEAM -- science, technology, engineering, arts, and math -- program that sought to increase underserved girls' interest and confidence in science and math. Funded by Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation and the Remmer Family Foundation, Inc., Black Girls Create was built on the notion that informal learning spaces can provide underserved students with access to quality and culturally relevant STEM activities that are often unavailable in their schools. Using social history, culturally responsive instruction, mentorship from young, diverse scientific role models, and the development of transferable STEM skills through design and digital fabrication, it aimed to increase participants' interest in STEM fields and their confidence in their abilities to master science and math subjects.
Through Black Girls Create, we took high-quality research and transformed it into action -- using evidence-based methods to interest more Black girls in STEM and show them what they can achieve. The STEM ecosystem benefits from the creative and innovative contributions of African American women, and society as a whole benefits from these steps taken toward gender equality and social justice.