As librarians we are frequently asked “How do I find books by trans scientists?” or “How do I research what it’s like to be a black engineer?” but while there is increasing interest in these types of works they remain difficult to find, recommend, and purchase. This is frustrating for educators and librarians, but especially for readers who want to see diverse experiences and cultures reflected in media and education.
The truth is that not all experiences are captured in “literature.” Marginalized populations face barriers - in education, in careers, in publishing - limiting the number of formal accounts of their lives in “academic media”. Podcasts, videos, blogs, documentaries, self-published memoirs, etc. are all valid forms of personal expression and experience, so why are they not valued and included in STEM? In this session, we’ll discuss systemic participation and inclusion barriers marginalized groups face and ways we can fight this pattern in the classroom, the library, and beyond.
This guide and presentation will be of value to educators hoping to diversify and expand “reading” lists and students researching these topics.
Embedded above is a copy of the slide deck used during the presentation given at Thomas L. Hill Iowa State Conference on Race and Ethnicity (ISCORE) 2021 preconference on March 3, 2021. The preconference is a day dedicated to Iowa State University staff development. We hope these slides, and guide, will be helpful to educators and librarians beyond Iowa State.
There are multiple layers contributing to the problem: the STEM, publishing, and library worlds all play a role.
In short, libraries can only provide access to materials that exist. Barriers in STEM and publishing prevent many accounts from diverse authors from being shared or published. And when those accounts are published, there are more barriers that make it harder for librarians to identify and purchase those materials (if they choose to do so), and for library visitors to discover them.
The situation isn't great and there's a lot of work still to be done to make sure the many diverse voices in STEM are recognized, seen, and heard. Here are some steps you can take to help make things better:
If you know of diverse STEM materials not in the ISU Library collections, REQUEST A PURCHASE. :D
When we were gathering the crumbs that became our presentation's proposal Megan called the issue a "layer cake of problems". There are other analogies that we could have used, such as a puzzle or a maze, but cake is what first came to mind. Erin decided it was a great name and Megan probably watches too much Nailed It!
The decorative icon images used on this guide from Icons8
This guide was made to accompany the 2021 ISCORE presentation:
Diverse STEM Reading: A Layercake of Problems :-/
Presented and created by:
Megan O'Donnell, Data Services Librarian &
Erin Thomas, Engineering Librarian