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Research Brief

What Counts as STEM?

May 7, 2019 | Media and Technology, Public Programs, Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks, Exhibitions, Informal/Formal Connections

The varied and diverse ways in which people engage with STEM are often not acknowledged due to the historical representation of STEM in school, industry, and society. These cultural models of “who does STEM” discourage many who don’t identify as male and/ or white, or who don’t see themselves as highly intelligent, from choosing or identifying with STEM. To broaden participation, the field needs to define STEM more comprehensively so that people can recognize the ways they already engage in, use, and contribute to STEM disciplines, even if they don’t conform to cultural stereotypes associated with the profession.

About this resource:

This is a practice brief produced by CAISE's Broadening Participation in STEM Task Force to help informal STEM education (ISE) and science communication groups reflect on and strengthen their efforts to broaden participation in STEM. It is part of a larger professional development toolkit, developed for those who lead staff or train professionals within the ISE and science communication fields. Review the full toolkit for 10 additional briefs, a conversation guide, and other supports:

Using practice briefs:

Practice briefs are intended to seed reflective discussions about professional practices, and be read in advance of group discussions among staff, colleagues, or trainees. They include ideas to consider, recommendations for action, further reading, and links to more tools. The task force recommends organizing multiple discussions, each using one or two briefs that participants read in advance.


  • 2013 06 25 1edf204  1
    Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE)
  • Marc Lesser
  • REVISE logo
  • Bruno Takahashi
  • Citation


    Funding Program: AISL
    Funding Amount: 1612739
    Resource Type: Research Products
    Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM
    Audience: Administration/Leadership/Policymakers | General Public | Educators/Teachers | Museum/ISE Professionals | Scientists | Evaluators | Learning Researchers
    Environment Type: Media and Technology | Public Programs | Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks | Exhibitions | Informal/Formal Connections

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