It is no secret that STEAM fields lack the diversity and inclusion of the communities they serve. Many individuals and organizations are working hard to develop plans for increasing racial and gender equity within their fields. STEAM Outreach plays a significant role in supporting long-term societal goals of increasing STEAM literacy and diversity within our STEM workforce.
STEAM Outreach has been found to provide communities—particularly students, parents, and teachers—with opportunities to engage in ways that are relevant, educational, and inspirational. COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and remote schooling have posed both challenges and advantages for STEAM Outreach. Ultimately, without an intentional focus on equitable structure and practice within an outreach program, students in underserved communities will continue to have limited access and exposure to knowledge of STEM fields, technology, resources, and a comprehensive STEM educational experience (Avendano et al, 2018; Boyce, 2017).
What can we as professionals in the engineering industry do to build and foster more equitable STEAM communities? How do we structure our Outreach Programs to focus on equity?
This presentation explores the steps taken at Murraysmith + Quincy to improve its STEAM Outreach program. We will discuss: 1) the significance of STEAM versus STEM; 2) the challenges and advantages posed by remote learning and STEAM outreach; 3) the restructuring of our program; 4) lessons learned and next steps; and 5) pertinent conclusions and recommendations for other companies looking to initiate more equitable outreach programs.