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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

STEM Conference: Keynote speaker tackles issues regarding science, stereotypes

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"The second annual Roadmap to STEM conference brought an influx of scientists and teachers to Sheridan this week. Hosted by the Wyoming Department of Education and Sheridan College, today marks the last day of the event." continues The Sheridan Press.

Keynote speaker Dr. Deborah Berebichez addressed issues regarding science, education and stereotypes Tuesday morning.

Physicist Deborah Berebichez speaks on Outrageous Acts of Thinking at the Northeast Conference of Science and Skepticism (NECSS) on April 12, 2015 at F.I.T. Haft Auditorium in New York City. 
Photo: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Originally from Mexico, Berebichez graduated with her doctorate in physics from Stanford University. Currently she works on Wall Street as a risk analyst, but focuses much of her attention on explaining complex science concepts to youth and adults through columns, classes and videos.

Berebichez addressed Wyoming educators on the importance of creating an open learning environment. By doing this, she said, more minorities and women will have the confidence to enter fields like math, science and engineering.

Nationally, women and girls are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. According to 2011 U.S. Department of Commerce data, women make up 24 percent of the STEM workforce, but earn on average 33 percent more when working in these fields.

Focusing on why this occurs, Berebichez relayed her own stories. During her time in graduate school, a Stanford professor advised her to change studies to a more feminine field. This was a message she received throughout her life from teachers and peers.
These messages are damaging to girls, she said.

“Girls’ achievements and interests in math and science are shaped by the environment around them,” Berebichez said.

While national statistics show that girls are taking more math and sciences classes on average than boys, they don’t always perform as well on tests.

This underperformance, Berebichez said, is often due to a lack of confidence.