The Influence of Kindness and Community in Broadening Participation in STEM Careers

February 23, 2018, 12:30 - 1:30 pm

Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 Orchard Street

Mica Estrada, Carl A. Grant Visiting Scholar

Asst Professor, Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Institute of Health & Aging, University of California San Francisco

African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are historically underrepresented (HU) among Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) degree earners and career pathways.  Why do we stay and why do we go?  Viewed from a perspective of social influence, the pattern suggests that HU people do not become part of STEM communities at the same rate as non-HU students. Dr. Estrada will talk about a model of social influence and share ways the model has been used to understand the orientation of HU students to their discipline communities and how this relates to persistence in those career pathways years after completing their college degree. By longitudinally tracking and examining psychosocial variables, we are better able to see what types of STEM training programs and mentorship are more likely to result in students persisting in STEM career pathways. Further, she will talk about how institutional policies and climate that provide kindness cues that affirm social inclusion may impact the integration experience for HU college students, faculty and administrators.

Mica Estrada received her doctorate in Social Psychology from Harvard University and now is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Institute of Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco.  Her research program focuses on social influence, including the study of identity, values, kindness, well-being, and integrative education. Currently she is engaged in several longitudinal studies, which involve implementing and assessing interventions aimed to increase student persistence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers (funded by NIH, NSF, and HHMI).  Dr. Estrada’s work focuses on ethnic populations that are historically underrepresented in higher education, most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and have the potential to provide diverse and creative solutions to the pressing challenges of our day. As a leading scholar on issues of diversity and inclusion, she serves on National Academies’ committees, received the Leadership Institute Graduate Award from the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) in 2013 and the Adolphus Toliver Award for Outstanding Research in 2016.