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Area 1: Challenging the status quo

Challenging the status quo is about recognising that things have to change and taking concrete steps towards making that change.
This section of the Equity Compass is all about Challenging the status quo, in other words, recognising that things have to change and taking concrete steps towards making that change. The first dimension is Transforming power relations. This requires thinking about the most accepted and expected ways of representing and/or engaging with STEM, and then working to broaden these to be more inclusive. For instance, do you represent scientists as special geniuses or as normal people, working collaboratively in large teams? Are there pictures of white male Nobel Laureates on the wall? Or do your posters represent a mixture of people? Do you include examples of real scientists from minoritised backgrounds as examples in your work? There’s a more literal side to this too.
Have you partnered with people from the minoritised groups you want to work with? Are their voices represented in your work? The second dimension is Prioritising minoritised communities. Here, you need to think about whose needs and assets are foregrounded in your work. Are the needs of dominant groups, such as the STEM industries for more workers, at the heart of your work? Or are the needs and assets of young people from minoritised communities at the forefront of what you’re trying to do? These may not always be the same. The third dimension is Redistributing resources. People from more privileged backgrounds in our societies are already well able to access informal STEM learning.
This part of the Compass helps you to focus on who you want to work with and think about actively supporting people who are not in a position to easily take up the resources informal STEM learning has to offer. Are your activities designed for dominant groups, and as a result, exclude minoritised groups, even when they are able to take part? Are there large fees attached to taking part in your activities?

The first Equity Compass area is called ‘Challenging the status quo’, which includes three dimensions to improve equity: Transforming power relations, Prioritising minoritised communities, and Redistributing resources.

In this video, Emily explains what each of these equity dimensions means, and what questions you might be asking to think about these dimensions.

  • Transforming power relations involves thinking about dominant representations and ways of doing science and STEM. It’s about who and what counts. For example, might your practice reproduce stereotypes about science and scientists?
  • Prioritising minoritised communities focuses on whose agenda and whose needs are driving the activities. For example, do you prioritise the needs of STEM industries, such as needing a larger pool of skilled workforce, or the needs of the participants, particularly those from minoritised backgrounds?
  • Redistributing resources brings our attention to thinking about who are the participants that we work with. For example, are the opportunities largely available to those from more privileged backgrounds? How do you actively support people who might not be in a position to easily take up the resources that informal STEM learning has to offer?

Next, we use the questions introduced within this Equity Compass area to think about an illustrative case study taking place in a science centre.

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Equity in Informal STEM Learning: Using the Equity Compass

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