America is lagging behind other countries in producing scientists, technologists and engineers. Half of the U.S. workforce – the female half – is not being recruited and trained in a manner that appeals to and retains them (only 9% of these jobs are held by women). More disturbing is the fact that minority women make up a far smaller portion of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce. To combat this trend, on April 1, 2015, two dozen leaders from various stakeholder communities met at the Arizona State University (ASU) townhouse in Washington DC to network and plan future events aimed at encouraging and sustaining under-represented girls in science. The event was co-sponsored by Dr. Kimberly Scott, Director of The Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology (CGEST) and Dr. Mina C. Johnson, Director of the Embodied Games lab. Dr. Scott’s CGESTcenter is housed at The School of Social Transformation. Its mission is to explore, identify, and create innovative scholarship regarding under-represented girls in STEM. CGEST is a unique research unit that cultivates a diverse and interdisciplinary community of scholars, students, policymakers and practitioners to establish best practices for culturally responsive programs for girls of color. Dr. Johnson is on the Board of Advisors.
The Embodied Games lab is housed in ASU’s Department of Psychology and also at Radboud University, Nijmegen. The Embodied Games team is dedicated to creating Web-based videogames and assessment tools that instruct in science content that is accessible to all. The content emphasizes inclusivity for women and for students of color. The primarily gesture-based games cover a range of science topics from nutrition to physics – from grades 4 through 16
The lively networking event attracted a broad array of leaders from the White Office of Science and Technology Policy, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation (NSF), George Mason and Hofstra Universities, and the Multicultural Media Telecom and Internet Council – among others. Dr. Scott opened the event and then a short presentation was made by Dr. Johnson. Attendees were encouraged to download several of the free, award-winning games from the ASU spinout company website, e.g., Mitey’s Electric Field (designed to instruct in attraction and repulsion of atoms).