For International Women’s Day, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering and Professor of Science Education Nazira Karodia presented the University of Wolverhampton’s first Athena Swan Gilkison lecture. The event celebrated the University’s female professors. Here, Professor Karodia summarises some challenges in STEM education and the future.
The theme for International Women’s Day ‘Be Bold for Change’ is something which I advocate and would like people to reflect upon. My focus is about higher education and inclusivity in higher education; I’m very interested in refocusing science and science learning and teaching towards this inclusivity.
Because science is the matrix of modern society, science education is inextricably linked to equality, opportunity, social justice and morality.
We have a responsibility to people who have been historically excluded from STEM education; we need to ensure it reaches those groups and is relevant to their lives and careers. We, as a university, champion the rights of the many groups who have been marginalised.
In terms of science careers, glass ceilings and other biased obstacles need to shatter and we still need to put greater effort into that. At the University of Wolverhampton, we have that leadership to see that transformation.
With Trump and with Brexit, we are entering an era that is almost medieval in its scientific denial. Scientific rationality is being tested because we are re-fighting liberalising fights we thought we had left behind. The word of the soothsayer is being presented as scientific fact and it is in this scenario that women’s rights and the rights of minorities are most at risk.
Women can be inspirational role models. Forget LaLaLand, it’s Hidden figures, the film about black female mathematicians who played a vital role in the NASA programme, which should have received acclaim. History brings up these hidden figures and brings them into the classroom for students to discover. Women by their activism can achieve great success.
While we champion the rights of women and other historically underrepresented groups, it is important that we do not neglect the education of men.