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Sociocultural Barriers in STEM

This course is designed to give biomedical graduate students an introduction to sociological literature surrounding inequities in STEM. Topics of discussion/lectures include: introduction to sociology, sexism and gender bias, intersectionality, stereotype threat, racial discrimination, socioeconomic inequity, and LGBTQ+ representation, among others.

By the end of this course, students will have learned:

  • To identify types of systemic inequities in STEM
  • To understand and analyze how sociological theory and principles intersect with the higher educational system and scientific workforce
  • Terminology, trends, resources, and tools for understanding sociocultural barriers
  • To propose and defend policy addressing inequity in higher education

This course introduces students to systemic sociocultural barriers to success in STEM. Students will attend a lecture by experts in different subfields to expose them to the important terminology and concepts to each topic. Each lecturer will also assign a paper that will be discussed in the following discussion section. Journal articles will be selected to enhance the students’ understanding of the topics and facilitate student engagement with the material.


Course Design:

The lecturer or course director will assign reading material relating to the lecture. The assigned reading will be primarily composed of reviews or journal articles, but book chapters and news articles may be assigned if appropriate. Students are expected to read all assigned material before discussion. During lectures, the professor will give an introductory presentation on the current understanding of their topic (including a brief overview of their research interests). This introduction would ideally include current prevailing theories and the professor’s view of future directions in the field. During discussion classes, students will use what they learned in lecture and/or in previous coursework to discuss the assigned readings. Students can also ask questions about the procedures and processes used in the paper.

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