Peeking behind the curtain of running an outreach program
STEMM outreach is an essential component of STEMM community engagement, education, and science communications. There’s a lot of strategy and finesse in translating scientific principles into captivating demonstrations. However, there are additional challenges that many don’t know about when it comes to running STEMM outreach with social justice-oriented missions, ones that target audiences from disadvantaged or marginalized backgrounds for sustained engagement.
Here, I continue a conversation with two friends I’ve worked closely with to talk about the unique challenges of running an outreach program that targets students from marginalized communities. Check out part 1 where we cover topics including challenges of reaching middle school students, parental effects on STEMM enthusiasm, sustained community engagement, and motivations for getting into STEMM outreach. Now in part 2, we cover challenges in reflecting diversity in volunteers, soliciting financial support, fostering art and creativity in STEMM, and advice on working in STEMM outreach.
Murchtricia Jones, Sydney Rosenblum, and I worked together as directors for the University of Michigan’s InnoWorks chapter, an organization that puts together week-long summer camps for socioeconomically disadvantaged middle school students. Murchtricia is a PhD candidate in bioinformatics; Murchtricia re-started the organization after a long institutional hiatus and served as the executive director for three years. Sydney Rosenblum is the current director of U-MyScI, the rebranded InnoWorks chapter, and previously served as the logistics director for two years.
Feminism has played a key role in framing inequality within STEM communities, particularly with regard to the stories about gender disparities shared through #WomeninSTEM. However, the visible and most commonly shared stories of diversity in STEMM are largely centered on the experiences and achievements of white, cisgender, and able-bodied women. Women’s history month is not only a great time to register the advances of women in STEM fields, but also to reconcile how STEMinism (STEMM x feminism) can be more inclusive and intersectional.