St. Kate is pushing to double number of BIPOC women in STEM fields in next 5 years

The St. Paul university will host a town hall Tuesday evening moderated by MPR News host Kerri Miller.

Women work in a science lab.
Nearly 42 percent of St. Catherine University's population is BIPOC women. The private women's university in St. Paul is working to double the number of BIPOC leaders in science in the next five years.
Courtesy of St. Catherine University

While women account for roughly half of the workforce, they make up just over a quarter of people working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM fields.

That’s according to figures from the Census Bureau, which also shows that women of color are even less well-represented in STEM fields.

According to one study, they make up just 11 percent of people working in science and engineering jobs.

One place trying to get more women of color into STEM jobs, especially leadership positions, is St. Catherine University in St. Paul.

The private women’s college will host a town hall at 7 p.m. Wednesday, moderated by Minnesota Public Radio host Kerri Miller. You can find more information on the event, which is free and open to the public, here.

St. Catherine’s Executive Vice President and Provost Anita Thomas joined MPR News host Cathy Wurzer on Morning Edition to talk about what the university is doing to prepare BIPOC women for careers in STEM fields.

“It is still challenging for women as a whole to enter into the STEM fields,” Thomas said. “There's a lot of research that talks about how if womens’ industry or discipline is for men that they under-achieve, even if they have the same ability levels to really be able to perform well. We certainly then also can extend that for BIPOC women who similarly faced stereotypes about performance that really, I think turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy for many who either choose not to enter the field because of competition, or the thoughts that they will be less well-received.”

Thomas said that challenge also extends to BIPOC women who already face stereotypes in the workplace about performance.

Use the player above to listen to their conversation.

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