SDT used to decrease the substantial gender disparity amongst US STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Faculty.October 13, 2015 by Steph Green

Eighty-one percent of US STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) university faculty members are men. A Montana State University team led by Jessi L. Smith is attempting to change this substantial gender disparity. image3 Using Self-determination theory as their basis, they formulated a three-step intervention, a faculty recruiting procedure with each part focusing on the three psychological needs, competence, autonomy, and relatedness. In self-determination theory, when these three psychological needs are met, creativity, motivation, and performance of the individual will prosper. Search committees were assigned to intervention groups and then given a ‘faculty search toolkit’. To enhance competence and autonomy of the committee members, the toolkit came with instructions on how to conduct a ‘broad applicant search’ and how to overcome any underlying gender bias. To enhance their relatedness, members were paired for support. With 23 Stem faculty searches conducted over one year, the intervention was successful and consequently, searches were over 6 times more likely to make an offer to a female candidate, and female candidates who were made an offer were almost 6 times more likely to accept the offer. The authors deemed the results a successful demonstration of how applying psychological theory can achieve improved practical results. You can check out the results published in BioScience. Click here to read the News post on EurekAlert - Science News. Click here to read the article Gender_signs.svg_