Women are underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Research suggests that gender gaps in STEM are not the result of interests or aptitudes but rather the result of hidden bias. Thus, equity is intimately related to academic excellent and prowess. While research on bias and aptitudes form much of this discussion on the STEM gender gap, what about the STEM environment itself?
This project examines how STEM spaces might be better designed to foster a greater sense of wellbeing in women. It builds on previous work on gendered spaces by Elyssa Twedt, Kelly Hoffman and Sophie Trawalter (in press), combined with work on restorative environments by Jenny Roe (https://jennyjroe.com/publications/). This prior research has shown associations between built spaces with masculinity and natural spaces with the feminine. Likewise, restorative environment research has shown that natural, green spaces promote psychological and physical wellbeing and a sense of belonging. This project is exploring attributes of STEM spaces and how they signal belonging and comfort.
This project is supported under a UVA Sustainability Research Development Grant awarded January 2018.