TERC Recognizes International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Calls for Continued Support of STEM Education

STEM education Research nonprofit emphasizes equity, inclusion

CAMBRIDGE, Mass—February 07–In support of the United Nations’ February 11  International Day of Women and Girls in Science, TERC joins in the call to bring more women and girls into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. A longstanding STEM education research and development organization, TERC has always prioritized equity and inclusion, which leads to innovative research.

“TERC has a passion for social justice and strives to create level playing fields for all learners,” said Laurie Brennan, president of TERC. “We have many talented women researchers and believe that concerted action could bring more women into science and STEM fields.”

One such woman is TERC senior research scientist Mia Ong, a champion of diversity. Harvard Education Press recently published her book, “The Double Bind in Physics Education,” which offers a detailed exploration of inclusion in physics, highlighting the need for far-reaching higher education reform. Dr. Ong notes that despite diversity efforts to recruit more women and students of color into science and mathematics programs, many leave the STEM pipeline.

According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), in 2019, women of color represented 23% of the U.S. population but were awarded only 6% of physics undergraduate degrees in the previous year, compared with 14% of white women and 79% of men of any race or ethnicity.

“The issues facing women in STEM, whether in physics, computer science, or tech, reflect NSF’s findings. From low expectations to microaggressions, women of color in STEM encounter myriad challenges to enter and stay in this field,” said Ong. “It became clear to me that the practices and culture within STEM institutions were the key underlying issues.”

Likewise, TERC senior researcher Jodi Asbell-Clarke’s new book, “Reaching and Teaching Neurodivergent Learners in STEM: Strategies for Embracing Uniquely Talented Problem Solvers,”  also discusses diversity: neurodiversity, or the natural variation in human brains that leads to differences in the way we think, learn, and work. Dr. Asbell-Clarke advocates for greater and earlier recognition of the skills and talents that neurodivergent learners can bring to the STEM workforce. 

The Women and Girls in Science Day’s theme for 2024 is sustainability, which the organizers define as economic prosperity, social justice, and environmental integrity.  Long a champion of environmental research, TERC senior scientist Gillian Puttick focuses on climate change. One of her projects challenges 8th–12th grade students to submit ideas to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gasses. Another is an all-expense-paid  climate equity institute for high school teachers that is now accepting applications.

“We are champions of women in science, and we support efforts to attract more girls into STEM fields,” Brennan said. “Occasions such as the International Day for Women and Girls in Science is one way to draw attention to a need for gender equality in an area that is critical for social and economic growth and stability.”

TERC is a nonprofit comprising teams of math and science education and research experts dedicated to innovation and creative problem solving. At the frontier of theory and practice, TERC’s work encompasses research, content and curriculum development, technology innovation, professional development, and program evaluation. TERC has a passion for social justice and strives to create level playing fields for all learners, reaching millions of learners every year.    

To learn more, please visit www.terc.edu