Senior Research Scientist and Evaluator

Mia  Ong

The Double Bind in Physics Education

Maria (Mia) Ong, Ph.D. has recently published a groundbreaking book titled The Double Bind in Physics Education (Harvard Education Press; Publication date: May 9, 2023; $38.00 paper). This thought-provoking work offers a detailed exploration of inclusion in physics and highlights the need for far-reaching higher education reform, noting that despite diversity efforts to recruit more women and students of color into science and mathematics programs, many leave the STEM pipeline.

Mia is available for media interviews to discuss her research and the themes explored in her book. Please click here to schedule an interview.

Program/Areas of Interest

  • Women of color in STEM
  • Gender, race/ethnicity, and physics
  • Qualitative methods and analysis
  • Communities of practice theory
  • Sociology of education
  • Social justice and STEM education policy
  • Science and technology studies
  • Higher education and early careers

Past TERC Projects include: Computing Beyond the Double Bind, Engineering Beyond the Double Bind, Evaluation of the University of Massachusetts – Amherst Initiative for Maximizing Student Development, STEM Education Evaluation Center


Maria (Mia) Ong, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Scientist and Evaluator at TERC. She is also the Founder and Director of Project SEED (Science and Engineering Equity and Diversity), a social justice collaborative affiliated with The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA. For over twenty years, she has conducted empirical research focusing on women of color in higher education and careers in STEM and has led evaluation of several STEM diversity/inclusion programs. Dr. Ong’s work has appeared in reports to U.S. Congress and to the U.S. Supreme Court and in journals such as Social Problems and Harvard Educational Review, and she was an invited speaker at the 2016 White House meeting on inclusive education in STEM. Between 1996 and 2000, she directed an undergraduate physics program for students of color and women at the University of California at Berkeley; for this work, she was a co-recipient of a U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

Mia is former Chair of the Social Science Advisory Board at the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) and a former member of the NSF Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering, the NSF Advisory Committee for the GPRA Performance Assessment, and the NSF Advisory Committee to the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences.  She holds a Ph.D. in Social and Cultural Studies in Education from U.C. Berkeley.


  • American Educational Research Association
  • The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science
  • The Association for the Study of Higher Education
  • The Society for Social Studies of Science
  • National Center for Women and Information Technology

Honors and Awards

  • The 2012 Physics Education Research Conference (PERC) Proceedings Paper Award, 2013
  • Top-five finalist (with Y.V. Zastavker), Frontiers in Education (FIE) Benjamin J. Dasher Best Paper Award for the paper, “Women in Engineering: Exploring the Effects of Project-Based Learning in a First-Year Undergraduate Engineering Program”
  • Harvard University Graduate School of Education Postdoctoral Fellowship on Education, 2003-2005
  • Consortium for a Strong Minority Presence in Liberal Arts Colleges Postdoctoral Fellowship (Wellesley College), 2002-2003
  • University of California President’s Dissertation-Year Award, 2001-2002; American Educational Research Association Doctoral Fellowship Award, 2000-2001

Highlighted Publications

Jaumot-Pascual, N., DeerInWater, K., Ong, M. et al. “I can do data for my people”: experiences of giving back for Native undergraduates in computing. Cult Stud of Sci Educ (2023).

Ong, M., Ko, L. T., and Hodari, A. K. (in press). Agency of women of color in STEM: Individual and institutional strategies for persistence and success. In E. H. Branch (Ed.), Pathways, potholes, and the persistence of women in science: Reconsidering the pipeline. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Kachchaf, R., Ko, L., Hodari, A., and Ong, M. (2015). Career-life balance for women of color: Experiences in science and engineering academia. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 8(3), 175-91

Ong, M., Wright, C., Espinosa, E., & Orfield, G. (2011). Inside the double bind: A synthesis of empirical research on undergraduate and graduate women of color in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Harvard Educational Review, 81(2), 172-208.