Kimberly A. Scott is Professor of women and gender studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University (ASU) and the founding executive director of ASU’s Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology (CGEST).
Her interest in STEM equity work began over two decades ago. Her early career experiences as a classroom teacher in a high-needs district, working in various museums in New York in educational positions, and spending a semester in Thailand working to help support women and girls sold into the sex trade taught her about the importance of representation.
“I learned how representation is tethered to cultural biases, and how structures, if appropriately built and implemented, can challenge those biases effectively.”
Those lessons were a crucial part of founding CGEST, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary. “I wanted to have a nationally recognized place that provides a collated hub of information with and about women and girls of color and STEM, and to do so in a way that’s accessible to decision makers,” Scott says. “For example, we publish peer-reviewed journals, but also engage in activities in the hope that the research that emerges as a result of our programming can be disseminated in a way that makes change possible.”
Scott is a member of the third ARC Network Virtual Visiting Scholar (VVS) cohort. The VVS program provides a unique opportunity for select scholars across disciplines to pursue research meta-analysis, synthesis, and big data curation on topics crucial to STEM faculty equity.
She thinks the VVS program offers a fantastic opportunity to obtain support to conduct research in a relatively unrestricted way.
“I was particularly impressed by the organization’s interest in intersectionality,” she says. “There aren’t enough efforts to really support scholars who are thinking about how to apply an intersectional framework in their work and research.”
Her VVS research focuses on funding trends addressing girls and women of color and STEM. During a meeting with CGEST postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Steve Elliott, they started discussing research related to using visualizations to represent social networks at the university, and how institutions engage in structural virtue signaling. “From that analysis, I started thinking about how other institutions and systems might engage in virtue signaling,” she says. “Organizations can easily say they want women of color in STEM fields, but that isn’t always reflected in outcomes. Having been a recipient of a good number of grants, I thought it would be a good time to see what was going on in the space around funding.”
One of the biggest things she sees in that space is a lack of transparency relating to funding systems. She hopes people will listen to the recommendations she developed as a result of her research, and think strategically about how they can be implemented.
Scott continues to work on this project with some of the data resulting from her VVS research being incorporated into her fifth book, which will document and describe her perspective on why disparity continues for women of color in STEM.
She sees the VVS program as having been extremely beneficial for her. “Being a VVS scholar has provided me with resources so I can get a better understanding of funding. This is invaluable information as a senior scholar thinking about how I can use my knowledge to lead in structural ways and effect change.”