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Posted March 12, 2020

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Engineers of Tomorrow is a not-for-profit that is shaping the engineering narrative by telling better stories. 

Normalizing Diversity

I’ll never forget the moment in grade 8 after we received our first math test back for the year.  

We had a new teacher who was not yet familiar with us and after handing my test back to me with a perfect grade he said to the whole class in a joking manner: “Did you guys know Terese was good at math?!”  

This was my first memorable experience of pre-decided and lowered expectations being assumed of me due to my gender, but it was not even close to the last.  

We’ve all experienced this, whether we played the witness, the person assuming expectations or the person who’s abilities were assumed for them.  

In 2019 Carnegie Mellon University conducted a neuroimaging research study that comparatively examined the brain activity of girls and boys while watching educational math videos.  

 “… the researchers found no difference in how boys and girls processed math skills and were equally engaged while watching the educational videos.” 

While this may be an obvious result to some, it is significant in identifying the fact that the diversity issue in STEM is not caused by lack of ability, but by society’s role in steering girls away from this field.  

The first step in tackling this issue is well on its way: raising awareness and understanding that there is indeed a problem.  

However, the goal in the end is to normalize diversity to the point where it is second nature to assume equal expectations of everyone. 

This is very different from actively and often forcibly implementing diversity into our lives.  

Tell us about your memorable experiences with diversity and how it affected the way you see the issue today! 

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