Germany, the US and many other countries have low rates of women in the senior-most career milestones in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) academia. Underrepresentation is undoubtedly an international issue. Nonetheless, there has been relatively little international conversation on the topic. One Fulbright alumna’s ongoing project tries to fix that.
The 2020 Mulert award was given to Kimberlyn Bailey, a 2018 – 2019 US Student Fulbright grantee, for a series of interviews she conducted with females in STEMM academia currently working in Germany. Bailey’s several dozen interviewees hailed from a variety of countries and academic STEMM fields.
Bailey’s interviews traced what started each women’s interest in STEM and how that interest became a STEMM career. From these career profiles, Bailey is writing, illustrating and producing a children’s book. Bailey explained, “We’re hoping that this book will help kids will discover or nourish their own STEMM interests by reading about how active women in STEM discovered and nourished their own STEMM interests.” This is Bailey’s second book she has created in concert with cuSTEMized, a non-profit devoted to fostering STEMM interests in young girls. The book will be released in English and German, free for download or available for purchase in print sometime in 2020. The Mulert award money will cover the costs of professional translation into German.
With each woman, Bailey also asked about their experiences as women in STEMM, their views on gender diversity initiatives and policies in STEM and relayed how their fellow interviewees answered, without revealing which woman gave a particular answer. Bailey explained the rationalte for these conversations. “I wanted to give these women — quite often the subject of public debate — a chance to weigh in for themselves and discuss what is ordinarily too heated a topic for open conversation. By not revealing which woman gave a particular answer, these women got to, for once, hear and react to the plethora of different viewpoints of their collagues.”
Bailey said what came through strongest from all these interviews was the critical role culture played in shaping each women’s experiences in STEMM and opinions about gender representation in STEMM. Bailey, herself a woman in STEMM who does sociology of STEMM research, hopes these conversations will fruitfully inform her future volunteer work and scholarship. Bailey commented, “The Fulbright/Mulert mission for ‘mutual understanding’ between countries is undeniably important. What it means to be a woman in STEMM drastically varies from one country to the next. I hope my future work and the children’s book will serve to support women in STEMM around the globe.”