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Area 2: Working with and valuing minoritised communities

Working with and valuing minoritised communities is about working in participatory and asset-based ways.
The Working with area of the Compass helps us to think about the extent to which we’re working in equitable ways that respect and value the communities that we work with and support them to have a say in what we’re doing. There are two dimensions within this area, which help us reflect specifically on how participatory our practice is and the extent to which we’re using what we call an Asset-based approach. So the first dimension focuses on how participatory our practice is. It encourages us to ask - is the practice being done to, for, or with underserved young people and communities? Are we doing science and STEM to, for, or with our participants?
For example, to what extent do participants, but particularly those from under-represented communities, have a say in the design and the conduct of the activity or the session? Who has ownership and voice in what we’re doing? Is it just us as leaders and facilitators? Or to what extent can participants really shape what we cover and how we do it? What sorts of roles do we encourage people to take? So, are facilitators the leaders and the experts, and participants just the learners? Or do we recognise, value, and encourage participants to also be experts and leaders? Are we encouraging them to have a real say and input?
The second dimension in this area helps us to consider the extent to which we’re taking an Asset-based approach. So this means, to what extent do we recognise and value the experiences, the knowledge, and the skills that participants already have, what they bring with them. This helps us ask questions like, are some participants being treated in deficit terms? And if so, how? Are they considered as lacking something, for example, lacking information, aspiration, interest, confidence, and so on? Who’s seen as having the “right” sorts of STEM knowledge or skills in this setting? Is it just professional scientists, STEM professionals? Or are we really recognising and valuing wider forms of life expertise?
To what extent are all participants valued and recognised as who they are, rather than who they’re not?

The second Equity Compass area is called ‘Working with and valuing minoritised communities’, which includes two equity dimensions: Participatory working – with and an Asset-based approach.

In this video, Louise explains what the two dimensions entail and gives examples of reflection questions.

  • Participatory working – with is about meaningfully involving participants in the programming and design, working with participants rather than delivering content to them in a one-way manner. For example, to what extent do participants have a say in the design and the conduct of the activities?
  • Asset-based approach focuses on recognising and valuing a broad range of participants’ skills, knowledge, experiences and who they are – within and beyond STEM. For example, how do you recognise and value wider forms of expertise? Or might you inadvertently take a deficit-based approach, treating the participants as lacking the ‘right’ interest, attitudes and knowledge that is expected within the specific informal STEM learning setting?

Next, we use the questions introduced within this Equity Compass area to think about a case duty we introduced in Week 1. Remember Phil and Nikki’s ‘Introduction to coding’ workshop? We will read the same case study, but examine the situation from a different perspective.

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Equity in Informal STEM Learning: Using the Equity Compass

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