Welcome and Joanne McGrath Cohoon Memorial Plenary

The Professional Culture of STEM: Challenges and Possibilities with Erin Cech

What does the culture of STEM have to do with inequality? Professional cultures of STEM, which give each discipline its particular “feel” and unite discipline members under a taken-for-granted system of meanings and values, are not benign. Drawing from several U.S. National Science Foundation-funded studies, articles, and her recent book, Misconceiving Merit, Erin Cech, PhD, argues that these professional cultures can have built within them intersectional inequalities along gender, race/ethnicity, and LGBTQ+ status. In this plenary, she discusses the role of three cultural ideologies—the Schema of Scientific Excellence, Depoliticization, and the Meritocratic Ideology—in producing these disadvantages. She also shares strategies for how we can interrupt these ideologies; how we can be vigilant about these ideologies in our organizations; how we check our own understanding of STEM excellence; and how we can cultivate a growth mindset around inclusion.

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