How Kindness and Community Increases Students’ Participation in STEM Career Pathways

The United States’ inability to achieve equitable workforce development in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career pathways is well-recognized and has been attributed to the poor retention of a diverse stream of students in academia. Social science theory and research provide evidence that social contextual variables—specifically kindness cues affirming social inclusion—influence chronic underrepresentation of some groups within STEM career pathways. Review of the literature suggests that the current STEM academic context does not consistently provide cues that affirm social inclusion to all members of the academic population, and that policies that address this disparity are essential to broadening STEM workforce development in the United States.

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