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Bridging the Gap Between Academia and Industry in STEM | Dr. Amanda Diekman and Jayshree Seth

Bridging the Gap Between Academia and Industry in STEM | Dr. Amanda Diekman and Jayshree Seth | 565

The Missing Link in STEM Diversity

A conversation with Dr. Amanda Diekman and Jayshree Seth about the attrition rate of women and minorities in STEM and how they are seeking to understand and correct the problem.

In this episode, we dive into the often discussed but seldom addressed divide between academics and practitioners in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) field. We welcome two esteemed guests: Dr. Amanda Diekman, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Associate Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs at Indiana University, and Jayshree Seth, Chief Science Advocate and Corporate Scientist at 3M.

Dr. Diekman acknowledges the existence of a gap between academia and industry, suggesting that it persists partly because people believe it does. However, she emphasizes that the divide can be bridged through effort, communication, and setting clear expectations. The most immediate impact of academic work is when students apply it in their careers, indicating a strong need for better alignment between academic research and industry practice.

Jayshree Seth uses the metaphor of “paths not taken” to explain the academic-practitioner divide. She points out that when people stick to the familiar, the less-traveled routes become increasingly invisible. To bridge the gap, individuals must step out of their comfort zones and embrace new approaches, even if it means learning new rules and navigating uncharted territory.

Jayshree and Amanda share a common interest in understanding why women, who earn STEM degrees, often do not pursue careers in STEM. Jayshree approached this issue from a social science perspective, seeking ways to ensure persistence among women in STEM fields. Amanda, with a background in gender roles and representation, found stability in the gender distribution within STEM unexplained by conventional narratives. Their collaboration aimed to identify and address the signals that deter women and minorities from engaging with STEM.

Jayshree’s role as Chief Science Advocate at 3M emerged from the company’s efforts to understand public perception of science, which revealed that many people believed science had little impact on their lives. This realization motivated her to advocate for science and connect with like-minded researchers like Amanda. Amanda’s research on gender roles and communal goals resonated with Jayshree’s experience, leading to their collaboration.

Amanda and Jayshree conducted a study to examine how goal congruity, the alignment between personal goals and workplace or academic values, affects students’ engagement in STEM. They focused on communal goals, recognizing that a lack of context, collaboration, and empowerment might deter underrepresented groups. The study sought to document the psychological benefits of nudging students toward a purpose-driven approach in STEM, highlighting the need to shift the culture to foster inclusion and belonging.

Jayshree identifies three critical areas where communal goals play a role in STEM: contextualization, collaboration, and empowerment. She shares her journey of feeling out of place in a male-dominated lab, only to discover the importance of her work later. At 3M, she found these communal goals embraced, contributing to a more inclusive environment.

The PRISM (Purpose Reflection in STEM Modalities) project is an effort to provide practical tools for STEM faculty to create assignments that encourage students to reflect on their purpose and engage in meaningful conversations. This initiative, funded by 3M, aims to bridge the gap between academia and industry, promoting STEM equity and supporting minoritized talent pipelines.

Both Amanda and Jayshree share their visions for the future. Jayshree hopes to see the PRISM curriculum become mandatory in STEM classes, fostering a sense of belonging and encouraging students to align their goals with communal values. Amanda envisions a broader cultural shift that creates more space for diverse values and perspectives in STEM, ultimately leading to increased retention and success among faculty and students alike.

Join us as we explore these critical topics and uncover actionable steps to bridge the gap between academia and industry in STEM, ultimately creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for all.

Three Key Takeaways:

  • Bridging the Academic-Practitioner Divide: The divide between academia and industry in STEM is real but can be overcome with better communication, clearer expectations, and a focus on shared goals. Both academic researchers and industry practitioners need to explore untaken paths and learn from each other to close this gap.
  • The Role of Goal Congruity in STEM: The concept of goal congruity—alignment between personal goals and workplace or academic values—is critical in encouraging underrepresented groups to pursue and persist in STEM careers. The lack of communal goals, such as collaboration and empowerment, can create barriers for women and minorities. Addressing these gaps can increase inclusivity and belonging.
  • The PRISM Project and Cultural Change: The PRISM (Purpose Reflection in STEM Modalities) project is designed to provide practical tools and templates to help STEM faculty integrate purpose-driven assignments into their curriculum. By promoting a more inclusive culture that values communal goals, the project aims to drive cultural change in STEM, ultimately leading to increased diversity, retention, and success for students and faculty alike.


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Bill Sherman When practitioners and academics collaborate, magic happens. Today I want to share an excellent example of thought leadership collaboration. meet Jayshree Seth, Chief Science Advocate and corporate scientist at 3M Jayshree has been passionate about encouraging people, especially women, who have been told they’re “not the science type,” to choose STEM careers. Jayshree’s written books, been involved in documentary films and even sponsored college scholarships. And as you’ll soon hear, Jayshree came across the research work of Doctor Amanda Diekman, professor of psychological and brain sciences and associate vice provost for faculty in academic affairs at Indiana University. The story begins when Jayshree personally resonated with some of Amanda’s research around women in STEM. A jury found a name for a feeling she had herself felt. In this episode, you’ll learn how cold outreach email sent to an old email address led to a collaborative research project, publication, and an ongoing effort to equip college faculty to help students think differently about STEM careers. I’m Bill Sherman, and you’re listening to Leveraging Thought Leadership. Ready? Let’s begin. Jayshree and Amanda, welcome to the show. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation.

Jayshree Seth Thank you Bill. Thanks for having us.

Dr. Amanda Diekman Happy to be here.

Bill Sherman So I think the place I want to start is with the much discussed but rarely put on the table problem of the academic practitioner divide. Does it really exist? And if so, where have you seen it happen? And I’ll turn to you, Amanda, first, and then come to you, Jayshree.STEM

Dr. Amanda Diekman I think it does exist. I think sometimes it can exist more because we believe it exists. And so, I think it is a divide, and I think it’s one that can be overcome. But maybe with some work and some communication and some clarifying of expectations. So, in, you know, speaking from the academic side, we do our work in part because we love the work, but also because we want that work to matter out in the world. One of the ways, maybe the most immediate way that we see it matter is we see students receive it and take it and go on with the knowledge, use it in their wide range of careers with this particular project, you know, with to show you that we’re going to talk about today, I think I’ve had a much more up close look at how we can make this work, matter how it might matter in the STEM workforce. And so, it’s been very eye opening, I would say.

Bill Sherman Jayshree?

Jayshree Seth Yeah. I think when there is a road that exists, then the paths that are not taken just don’t get traveled. And so, if everybody is going along and doing that work and they don’t see the need to connect, they just go down that path. But once I feel that path is traversed by someone, hopefully it opens it up to others to say, this is interesting, we should reach out and connect and make the most of the work we’re doing in on both sides. Practitioner as well as academic.

Bill Sherman And I think you underscore something which is absolutely critical if the divide exists and if it’s persisting, it’s because relationships are not active, right. And so, if we talk about whether corporate scientist or academic researcher, those are points where both of you went through the academic system. And it’s the question of even though you traveled different paths, do you bridge back? Do you make connections, or do you stay on the path that you’ve been, you know, on your journey, which both of you have been incredibly successful at? But the system rewards doing more of the same in some ways, right?

Jayshree Seth Yes it does. I think that’s a discussion that we’ve had in many forums lately, that there is this myth and, multiplicity of meritocracy and the way it manifests itself, it’s easier to do easier things, you know? And so, if there is a well-trodden path, why would people not go down that path? Because going in some other path will require you to find out the rules of engagement as you are going along, which we had to. But, you know, somebody has to navigate it. So, I’m excited that we’re trailblazers. Along that path, I suppose.

Dr. Amanda Diekman I think a challenging part in any culture, any culture at all that we might occupy is that it becomes invisible to us as we become part of it. Right. And so, the things that I take for granted in academia, like what counts as output or as a worthy endeavor to me, is slightly different when I’m thinking, when I’m talking across, you know, these divides. And I think those are conversations. It has been eye opening, like I said, in the way that it makes me understand, like, oh, I took this for granted. I assumed this was a value or was not a value. And those are questions that can be debated and should be debated, because our real question is, what’s that? What’s going to make a difference in, you know, two people on the ground, two students on the ground. And we actually need multiple perspectives to answer that question.

Bill Sherman Well, and this leads to the research that I want to talk about today. And I think a really nice place to begin into that is the formation of the hypothesis. Right. And asking the right question, or sometimes even the bigger or as Jayshree, you said, the harder question, not the easy question, right? And so I want to turn to both of you and ask you. About the hypothesis. What question were you exploring? And then I want to go into the origin story. But let’s set the table by grounding. What is the question the two of you came together to research?

Jayshree Seth I can give you the non-configured in the social science space. Question. To me the question simply was if we are losing a lot of people, a lot of women in STEM fields who go through a STEM education, but then let’s say don’t join the STEM force or workforce or go through their education partway like they are entering the system, but not exiting in a way that you would want them to. How do we make sure that they persist? And this was against the backdrop of my own experiences, which we can get into. But that was my thought when I reached out that we should research this because it is a problem. It is a well-documented problem in the pipeline.

Bill Sherman And Amanda, how would you frame the question whether, from the social sciences perspective or however you want to describe it?

Dr. Amanda Diekman Yeah. So I think I did come to it from a scholarly perspective that someone who had been interested in change and stability in gender roles and in representation in educational and occupational spaces for a long time, and thinking about, well, where are the spaces where we see a lot of change and where the spaces where we don’t see a lot of change, where we see more stability and STEM, of course, is one where we’ve seen more stability. But that stability couldn’t be explained by women being less qualified or even less confident, at least in a, you know, in terms of taking tests and doing well in classes. Those gaps have really converged over time within the United States. So, the explanations we used to have just don’t aren’t sufficient anymore. So, I came to it from that angle of like, this is this intriguing intellectual problem that we don’t yet have social psychological theories or evidence to explain. And we started to explain it saying, well, there’s something there are signals that women, in particular members of minoritized racial groups are getting from the culture and STEM that are suggesting that the things that those people value, that those groups value in particular, may not be afforded by these spaces. And so, what are those cues? How might we shift those cultures to be more expansive and more welcoming in that way? And that’s where we really where Jerry and I really converged is, we both had this interest, and seeing that there is something in the culture that maybe was sending some signals to people who were more qualified to be in the culture but didn’t weren’t feeling that they fit in that culture. And so, then exploring, like, all right, well, what might those signals be and how might we ship them? What are the levers that we can play within this space?

Bill Sherman Well, and from an academic perspective on culture, we often might talk about person, job fit, or person or organization fit. But here you’re talking about person career fit in some ways of the do I belong here? Is this a place that I can make a career call home and invest 30 or 40 years?

Dr. Amanda Diekman Yes. And I think that’s a really important point, that when we think about belonging or we think about these cues to what goals or opportunities are in a particular space, we think about it sometimes very, you know, proximately for a student like in this classroom, what is this instructor communicating to me. But we know students in in that classroom space are trying. They’re like trying to figure out, well, what would a career path here look like. And they’re making decisions like whenever you’re making those pathway decisions, they are they’re hypotheticals. They’re your best guesses. And things like classes, things like internships are so valuable because they provide answers. Those aren’t definitive answers. And so to me, like that’s both the problem and the opportunity is like, how can we challenge some of the stereotypes that people have that might not be accurate, at least aren’t accurate all the time, right. Like, how can we make space so that students too, or early career professionals understand, like they might have some agency and ability to create the spaces they want, and they have allies in those spaces too, even if they might not be stepping up as readily as we would want them to. There is opportunity in those spaces.

Bill Sherman So, Amanda, you’ve described how you’ve had an academic interest in this area in terms of gender and roles. Jayshree, I want to turn to you because if I look at your titles at 3M. Setting aside the body of work for a moment, I might not think that this would be a topic that catches your attention in primary focus. So, my question is, and I know your body of work on this is how did you come to this question as being important? And feel free to share a little bit of that backstory.

Jayshree Seth Yeah. So, I you know, I was, you know, scientist at 3M. doing my work in developing products and technology, building blocks and all that good stuff. And in 2018, I was asked to be the chief science advocate. And of course, if you Google that, you know that that role doesn’t exist anywhere. So, I was like, what is this now? And I found out the 3M, I’d actually done research to understand the public perception of science. And, you know, honestly, it wasn’t that great. You know, four out of ten people said if science didn’t exist, their life would be no different, you know? And so, it was kind of like, what’s going on here? Why don’t people appreciate science? And it was just something that needed a champion, needed advocates. And they came to me and asked me to do this role. And my first reaction to that was, well, I’m going to have to tell them that I can’t do this because I never thought of myself as the science and engineering type, or at least what I thought was the science and engineering type when I was growing up. And because the stereotypes are so prevalent and, you know, I wasn’t, you know, fixing things or breaking apart toys and tinkering with stuff, I was interested in human beings. I was interested in stories. I was interested in people. I wanted to help people, you know, solve problems, improve lives. And I just didn’t see that connection. But I grew up on the campus of an engineering institution. My dad was a engineering professor. That’s what my brother and I were going to have to do. So, I went in there, but I never felt like I belonged. And maybe, maybe looking back, because there was no woman engineer I ever saw, even on that campus. So. Maybe it was that, but I went through my journey and all of that, and I thought, you know, I’m going to have to let them know, because if they want me to stand in front of media or whatever and say, I always wanted to be a scientist, well, I’m not going to be able to do that because that’s just not true, you know. So, I was really once I got this role we did a lot of stuff. But the thing that kept bothering me was okay, I’m the chief science advocate and if I’m going to really advocate my personal story is that I never wanted to be in this field. But I know I have made so many contributions and I’ve been so successful. What about all those people who are like me, who don’t know that this can be a path for them, and they’re struggling, and they decide to drop out? What about that? Like, then we’re going to miss out on so many students, so many scientists, so many ideas, so many innovations.

Bill Sherman And it’s a compounding effect a year after year. Right?

Jayshree Seth So that to me became something that was. Really something that I was like, we got to get to a bottom to that. Okay, so then what happened is when I was looking at people’s public perception of signs and why they say the things they say, this sounds really ridiculous, but the whole world of social science is opened up to me. And I was like, this is brilliant stuff. And I was like, reading paper after paper, boring everybody around me because it’s 2020 now when I’m really digging into this, because that’s when we had the time to look into this stuff and I’m like, did you know this? Did you know that I was going through all of this? Like, people are wonderful. I had no idea that people had actually researched this.

Bill Sherman So as a result of the pandemic, you’ve discovered the social science. Yeah.

Jayshree Seth I mean, I listen to all of that. I just loved it. I just laughed it up. And then I was like, I have to look if somebody has looked at what I felt and I’m looking, and then I end up at this paper and then I’m reading all the citations, I’m reading all this paper and I’m literally in tears. I feel validated. Finally, the there is a feeling there is a name and there is a professor. And I was like, Bill, you know me by now because we have worked together before. I was like, I’m going to reach out. So, I find this professor and according to my detective work, which was a little bit flawed, this person is at Miami University in Ohio. So, I send an email to this email information that I got and said, I just want to thank you because you have no idea. I have read all your papers and what you say is exactly right. I felt it, and I just want to thank you for giving it a name. And I just would love to, you know, have a zoom chat so I could do that and, you know, face to face and then nothing happens for a while, of course, because she’s not at home, you know. So, I don’t know how you, but you may want to tell the story of how you found the email. And one day we connected. And when we connected, I think I cried again, because that comes easily to me. And I just said, this is wonderful. I would love to somehow continue this conversation.

Bill Sherman So let’s pass the baton to Amanda. How did that misdirected email get you? Jayshree also mentioned, thank you for giving it a name. What is the name that we’re talking about here? And then I’d love to hear your response of that initial email as well as the conversation. And then we’ll get into the research.

Dr. Amanda Diekman Yeah, absolutely. So, I’ll start with the name. We focus on the contract that we named. It is goal congruity. So, the sense that the goals that matter to you are ones that you see your workplace, your school, and you have the ability and opportunity to fulfill those goals in the pathway you’ve chosen. And we particularly focus on communal goal incongruity or congruity, in STEM, because that’s what people perceive as missing is kind of other people and pro-social impact from STEM, in the perceptions that people have of STEM. So, the email went to my former workplace. I was at Miami University in Ohio for 15 years and then had just recently moved, before the pandemic moved to Indiana University, where I am now. And so, as you know, with former inboxes, you don’t check them all the time. And I hadn’t had my forwarding set up. I do now. And so I, you know, went back and was looking at it and was like, oh. And for an academic, I will say that we are pleasantly surprised when our work lands with anyone. It is really such a touching moment to for anyone to even read it, but then let alone to say like this really tapped into something I felt, and so it’s very, very important. It was very touching to me as well. And so we, we zoomed during the pandemic, and it was the start of many, many conversations. And there was an energy and an enthusiasm like right away that was very interesting. And I think one of the things that we share is the ability to kind of detect what is interesting and follow that energy. And so, I think that that is has steered us very well in this collaboration.

Bill Sherman So this conversation led not only to a research study but publication, presentation. Let’s set the table on the research itself. What was the question? And then we can go into the findings and their implications and impact okay.

Dr. Amanda Diekman Yeah. What we wanted to do together was try to document in an empirical form, some of what Jerry had experience, some of what my lab had explored in different ways. And we wanted to test what are some simple ways we could use to demonstrate that when we kind of nudge students to consider their purpose, their own words or reasons for pursuing a STEM pathway, that when we delivered that nudge to them, even in a minimal way through writing, or if. Acting on that for a few minutes. That, that would demonstrate some psychological benefit in terms of them thinking that they had more of these goal opportunities in their major and their career pathway, which we know is beneficial, but also in terms of belonging, in terms of stress and well-being. And so we it did take some time. This is one of the things that we learned about each other, is that academic research moves very slowly. We have to develop new paradigms. We have to test those out. It took a while to be able to recruit the students who we most wanted to speak about were students of color and engineering and physical sciences. Takes a while to recruit those students.

Bill Sherman Then you have an IRB that you have to go through. So yeah.

Dr. Amanda Diekman So they said, one thing we’ve learned is that academia does, even if we are persistent in trying very hard to move things quickly, it is not a corporate pace, I will say that, but the investment was well worth it.

Bill Sherman So as you talk about purpose and goals with relation to STEM, at least, and I’m not a scientist by training, the perception that I have heard is often framed towards a genetic goals in terms of it’s a good career, you can pursue something that you love, right? You can answer tough questions, right? Rather than the communal side. So I want to turn to you, Jayshree, what are examples of the communal side? How do they fit in and how do you activate students to start thinking about that and going, oh, I never thought about the sciences that way.

Jayshree Seth Yeah. I mean, I’ve thought about that a lot. I think for me, in my journey, the three things I think that really were bothersome were there was no contextual bringing to life of what we were doing and how it impacted people. And that’s just how I was geared. The second there was, there was no emphasis on collaboration. So that. And then there was no empowerment per se. It was here’s what we’re reading, here’s what we’re studying, here’s what you have to do and all of that. So when I landed in graduate school and I had a modeling project and I was sitting at my desk and doing this, I really didn’t feel that I was empowered. There was this problem that I’m just programing and all of that. I wasn’t using my hands, and I just felt like I wasn’t sure, what am I doing, why am I doing it here? And there was no emphasis on and contextually bringing in. And everybody around my me was, you know, there were no women in the lab, and it was a big lab and everybody was doing what needed to be done. So I just assumed that I didn’t fit because I was thinking, why are we doing this now? It turned out that there they weren’t telling the story, but it was very important. And now I know that modeling of crystals in space and how they will grow is so important. Because when we go to Mars, we are going to have to make materials in space. But nobody explained all of that, so there was no contextual bringing it to life. There was no communal context, and there was no emphasis in collaboration, everybody sitting and doing their projects. So when I switched into my PhD for a completely different field where I could use my hands, where I myself learned how to build that context around saying, okay, if I’m developing a hard coding, if that hard coding goes on a tool, the tool is going to last longer. That’s going to help somebody who is using the tool. And so that was great. And then third piece was I’m going to collaborate. So I collaborated with my lab mates. I collaborated outside of my I collaborated with people in Russia. I mean, I did what came naturally to me communal context, sense of empowerment and collaboration. What I ended up at 3 a.m., I had all three. Suddenly there was this culture of empowerment, emphasis on collaboration and communal context of improving lives. Boom, that work. So I think what we have to do in my mind, if they are thinking like me and many are, as our data shows, we have to say that you are empowered. You have to say that science is about collaboration. It may not be when you’re taking these tests and doing little things, but at the end of the day, it’s not about that loner scientist that socially awkward, that geek, the guy with the crazy hair mixing colored liquids. That’s not how it works. You have to collaborate to bring things to life. So that is important. And what you do will or can help people. So you have to build those three pieces in my mind and helping students to be able to do that, to connect with their communal context or pro-social goals. That’s incredible. And that’s what companies are trying to do now with the purpose, right. The purpose statement is exactly that, reminding how you can persist, how you can be resilient. If you can go into that purpose that gives you that strength.

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Bill Sherman Amanda and I want to turn in terms of signaling here back into the educational space and how we present the role even in citation often and in the classroom. You may refer to a paper as Diekman et al. Or Diekman, Diekman and collaborators. Right. And the emphasis goes on the first name, even though there may be a number of collaborators to Gentry’s point on this, I think a lot of the issue begins with it’s so deeply embedded in culture that often we don’t see where it’s embedded. Would you agree? What would you add on that?

Dr. Amanda Diekman Absolutely. So I think part of it is just as you said, like what are the ways that we can remind people when we’re studying scientific phenomena that there are people who discovered those phenomena and they did that with the cooperation and help of other people, and they probably did it with a lot of failure, too, is a useful thing for students to understand is that there isn’t any scientific discovery, even by geniuses that was made without mistakes and failure in learning through that process. So I think infusing the people into the science and making sure that they’re visible is really important. I think allowing space is one of the things we’ve done in our collaboration is spent a lot of time talking to STEM faculty about the ways in which they do or don’t. Ask students about their reasons for pursuing STEM. And one of the points that we make is it can be as simple as allowing students some space to write about their why or their pathway. Sometimes, like this is not normative in STEM classes, especially the big lecture gateway courses where we know that attrition is highest for students. So those are exactly the places where we can have the biggest impact. And well.

Bill Sherman And sometimes that attrition is by design and is even foregrounded on. Look to your left. Look to your right. In a month, one of you won’t be here. Right? And that is deflating of purpose.

Dr. Amanda Diekman Oh, yes. And I think, you know, like having spent a lot of my career talking with people in the STEM workforce, like, it’s very frustrating because we actually need people to pass those courses and want to do this work. So we, of course need to be rigorous. We of course, have to have high standards for students to gain knowledge and gain skills. But those messages of there’s a fixed mindset about who can and will succeed are defeating not only for those students, but for our workforce and for our science, like for the knowledge that we will produce. So I think on multiple levels, those messages are really problematic.

Bill Sherman So let me follow up, Amanda, with a question around impact and target audience for impact. You mentioned STEM faculty. Is that your target audience for now, and if so, how are you trying to reach them and what impact are you trying to make? And then Jayshree, I will ask you the question as well. So let’s start  with Amanda.

Dr. Amanda Diekman Yeah. So I would say right now STEM faculty are our target audience. And I say that because that’s an intentional decision. So when you’re trying to shift culture, you don’t change culture just by saying we think culture should change, you know, or, you know, publishing papers. That’s not how it works. So we’ve thought I have.

Bill Sherman Written my manifesto, therefore the world is better.

Dr. Amanda Diekman Yes. We’ve learned carefully about like, okay, who holds authority in this particular culture? Who will listen to us, who will receive this message? And then can we give them tools to enact this message? Because knowledge is only part of the problem, right? It’s also like all of these STEM faculty have a billion other things going on and pressures in their own lives. And so we’re doing what we can to make this easier for them. How can we create assignments and co-create assignments with them that help them to ask about student purpose or integrate that? Start those conversations? And so I would say for now, STEM faculty are definitely our focus because they seem to be the most effective and pragmatic entry point. But I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily the end of the job.

Bill Sherman Right. Because you can imagine an entire ecosystem from parents to the students themselves and even first employers of students. Right. And so let me turn to you, Jayshree, from the perspective of impact. I’ll ask you a question broadly, and I also want you to touch on what’s the role of an organization, a corporate organization, on this impact?

Jayshree Seth Yeah, I think they are. They kind of intersect. So in order to conduct this research, we needed funds. And one of the things that at 3 a.m. we are very particular about is STEM equity. And so under that umbrella this was something that was important. And as Amanda mentioned, you know, for us the work is great, but it needs to have an output that can then be used and put to good use. So that was kind of the understanding that we’re going to do the research. We’re going to figure out what it tells us and that we are going to put into action the recommendation that comes out and have tools, templates, whatever it is that we can say we did this research, that’s great, but we’re also helping you how to put it into action. So you’ll appreciate this. Based on our previous conversations, Bill, it’s called Prism purpose reflection in STEM modalities. And the idea is, as Amanda said, what is it that the faculty can do? Like they say, okay, this is great. I want to do this purpose of action, but I don’t know how to say I’m not going to do it. Okay. Here’s the example. Here’s an example in let’s say exactly your class by some other instructor. Here is an example how to use and how to do it, how to conduct it, etc.. So that’s the process we are in right now and through our foundation. This has been funded through three. And we have connections there where we are also working on a talent pipeline for those who are minoritized. So we are really excited about making all these connections once it is available. And. We’re also trying to figure out how to get the word out on this, because the manifestos may be written and even repositories may be there. How do you get the word out in a environment where there is so much noise and so much going on? And like Amanda said, so much already to do that nobody can pay attention to this. So we’re also trying to figure out how to get the word out, because at the end of the day, it is so simple. Like the recommendation is so simple. It doesn’t take five hours. It doesn’t. And it it’s just so simple and so beautiful in the result that, you know, I’m just can’t wait for the world to know that this is something so simple. You can do it. Whether it’s at home with the kids, whether it’s in school, whether it is in educational environments, or whether it is in the workplace. Just reminding yourself why I’m doing what I’m doing and why it’s important to me. So I should persist.

Dr. Amanda Diekman And having those conversations. I think it’s really important. Like that’s how culture changes is when we take our thoughts and we have a conversation, which doesn’t have to be, I think it should be this way and you should think exactly like me, but like a conversation with your coworkers about, you know, this is this is what I thought when I got into this job. Here’s my experience now, here’s what I would like it to be going forward. What’s your experience like? And I think those kinds of conversations, being open to having them, being open to hearing them help us understand, like in what ways do our current workplaces align with our values, and what ways might there be better alignment, and can we move towards that?

Bill Sherman Well, and there’s a thread that runs through, I think, even in organizations of how roles are described and advertised and sought and sought to fill. And so are you emphasizing technical skills and specific knowledge or you for grounding in that must be an excellent collaborator, right? With a proven history of collaboration, all of a sudden that sends ripples upstream back into the education of how do we design and create experiences so students can point and say, yes, I’ve collaborated.

Dr. Amanda Diekman So.

Bill Sherman One of the things that you pointed out, Jayshree, was we often live in a world where problems seem difficult, complex and intractable, and we doubt anyone who says, I have a simple solution. Have you seen resistance in going? No, that can’t be that easy. Just getting someone to reflect for a few minutes. You found a magic pill that can’t work, right?

Jayshree Seth Yeah. I mean, we have a. I’m assuming that’s a good question you’re asking. I’m assuming we’re moving in crowds that are who are very receptive to what we’re saying and understanding of that. But perhaps people don’t realize how often we do it ourselves when we want us to persist on something. That’s what we tell ourselves, that it is important. That’s why I’m going to do it, you know? And that’s just a moment of reflection. Also, the thing that I think these days, what happens is we’re so busy in action that reflection is just not happening. And so I think people might actually think that there’s something there because we are always acting and acting on things. But are we really reflecting? And pandemic was that opportunity right that allowed people to reflect. And now open mic is done. Gone. Let’s move on and let’s act act act again I think that reflection practice perhaps needs to continue. So people might be pleasantly surprised that and understand that. Yeah, that’s something I do normally and I should do more of.

Dr. Amanda Diekman Yeah. I think we also anticipated that the benefit of this reflection will be stronger if it is amplified in the surroundings. Right. That comes back to his point about context. So yes, we have a tool we can say to any student or any worker in any environment. Some of it is individual action. But if it’s just you thinking your thoughts.

Bill Sherman And I’m sitting in my laptop and doing this, it’s different than if I’m sitting with my peers and talking.

Dr. Amanda Diekman Yeah, right. If you feel like you’re you are the only one in that space who has that value, it’s going to be harder. And so that’s why we are making this decision to try to, like involve faculty, involve others in this conversation so that it isn’t just one student thinking those thoughts on their own. It can be that will be better than not thinking the thoughts, but not as good as having peers faculty supports around that student.

Bill Sherman So what I love about this project is that it wasn’t research simply, okay, let’s ask a question. Let’s get an answer, publish it and be done. It was designed with this has to lead to impact from the start. What will we do? What action will we create? What change will we create? And so I want to hand each of you the magic wand for a moment and say, okay, it’s three years from now. What impact will you see? What will be measurable? And how do you know that this work has gone from an idea to a movement? I’ll start with you, Jerry.

Jayshree Seth Yeah, I would say if I had the magic wand, I would make it mandatory really in, in certain classrooms, because my own experience would have been different had I been reminded of my own purpose and reflected upon it. So I think Magic Wand, I would make it mandatory. Part of the curriculum that people share, the instructors share. And like Amanda said, have a conversation on it with students. And from an outcome perspective, I would see an increase in that sense of belonging and understanding that, yes, you can have agent goals that guide you. And there is there are communal goals that can guide you in your journey in STEM. And there’s no right or wrong, there’s no good or bad, and there’s no left or right either. Every.

Bill Sherman There may be days when one is more important than the other is. Yes.

Jayshree Seth Yes. So I think it’s important to have that. And then we had interesting findings too, that, you know, the people, the sense of agency helps as well. Not just having communal goals, but sense of agency also helps people persist. So I think mandatory so that all the students who are there feel like they belong, feel a better sense of authentic belonging, as well as see themselves in careers in STEM. Because that is the point we’re trying to address. You’ve already entered, we want you to thrive, and we want you to envision yourself being successful in STEM careers.

Bill Sherman Amanda, your turn with the magic wand.

Dr. Amanda Diekman Absolutely. So in my magic wand, I would love to see a cultural shift and a movement and a creation of space and community around these questions of what are the values that. Are transmitted in STEM. What’s communicated and how do we create space for more values of more students? To making those visible and amplified within the context. I think that this you know, I my life is in higher education. I’m in terms of researching these things, but also in terms of trying to support faculty in their own careers. And so I see the benefit not only for students that’s really important, but also for faculty who have made it through this sySTEM. But we don’t know for sure that they’re going to stay. So retention of our workforce is also really important. And so I think having these conversations, understanding that, yes, our students and our faculty members of the workforce have the agency to structure the roles to change that the science and technological workforce in a way that serves what they see is most important and the most pressing problems of our day. That’s really fulfilling. I think it produces better science and technological products, but it also keeps us as an engaged community, which is really important.

Bill Sherman Well, well-said. Fantastic. I want to turn to lessons learned on a meta level here, and we’ve been talking about sort of practitioner and academic. There are many people who are in similar roles to each of you. You bridge that divide. What did you learn and what lessons can you share with other people who are. Maybe they have a similar interest in pursuing a question and creating impact. How do they do it more effectively in this way? I’ll turn to you, Amanda, first.

Dr. Amanda Diekman Yeah. It’s really opened my eyes to the shortcomings of my own training. Right. And my own culture. You know that in in academia, we certainly focus a lot on what we the knowledge we can impart to students and the papers we can publish, but we do not receive any training. And our culture does not give a lot of emphasis on what happens after. It makes it into the journal. Like we care about impact factors and metrics, you know, but we don’t.

Bill Sherman You put it on your CV and then it’s done.

Dr. Amanda Diekman Right. But that the outreach, the like, how do we get people to use this tool that we’ve developed is, you know, that is new to me. And it’s been really fun and really challenging because it is not the skill set that I have been trained up in. So I’m learning and it’s an ongoing process, I’ll say that.

Bill Sherman Fantastic. And, Jayshree?

Jayshree Seth Yeah, it’s kind of along the same lines. We may see things, but is there signs supporting that? We may throw money at causes, but is there signs supporting that? And that’s what opened up in my head is like, if I’m going to be the science advocate, I’m going to be putting science behind our science advocacy. And that is what drove me. It’s like, if I’m a scientist and I’m a science advocate, we have to put science behind it. And the more I learn about social science, the biggest learning that I’ve had is, for some reason, the business world and STEM world. There is no room for feelings, identities, needs. Lived. Experience is so wrong. It is so wrong. We can be so much better as scientists and run so much better businesses if we only incorporated who we really are and stop hiding it. We are human beings with feelings, identities, needs and lived experiences and that has got to be integrated into our culture and our curriculum.

Bill Sherman So as we begin to wrap up, I want to ask one question. If someone is listening to this that wants to learn more about the research self, where do they find a deeper dive into this research?

Jayshree Seth I would highly recommend for people who are really interested in it to look up Professor Amanda Diekman go down the path of gold kangaroo theory just like I did, and you will be amazed at the body of work she has created, honestly.

Bill Sherman And then, Amanda, if someone wants to find you in your work, where do they go?

Dr. Amanda Diekman And you can Google Amanda Diekman and my lab at Indiana University will come up to you. Sure, you and I are both on LinkedIn and have some posts there, that are available. And so those are good places to start.

Bill Sherman And Jayshree, I know you’re active on LinkedIn. Any other place that you want to call out or any other asset?

Jayshree Seth No, I think LinkedIn is the place where I spend most of my time, and I think we are also very interested. If you have by any chance have any STEM faculty or any faculty listening to it, somehow reaching that set is going to be extremely impactful, even if they are able to just think about what we’re discussing and look at the work.

Bill Sherman I want to thank you both for a wonderful conversation, not only about the passion that drove this research and the findings, but also then modeling the collaboration to take action on problems. And that really I would love to see more of. So thank you both for being here today to talk about your work.

Jayshree Seth Thank you for having us. And shout out to all of Professor Diekman students. It has been so. This is so much fun for me to interact with the students and see them have this little window into this experience of actually having their work matter. I think that has been also really good to work with all the students as well. So shout out to all.

Dr. Amanda Diekman Of them too. Yeah, we have a wonderful, wonderful team here at Indiana University and the STEM faculty and students who participated in the work. We owe a huge, huge debt to them, of course.

Jayshree Seth And of course, to all my people at 3 a.m. who trusted in me and our ability to do this work and funded all this research. And it is incredible. People love to say all these things about, you know, industry and stuff like that. Here’s, you know, our we really care about this topic and we put our money where our mouth is and, and we do it because we want a talent pipeline that can be creative and innovative.

Bill Sherman Well, and I want to underscore and as a closing remark, your statement, if we are going to advocate for sciences, then we need to put the science underneath the advocacy. And it’s a question of do we think or do we know? And can we point to the data set. And that is the work of solving the ship, making the invisible visible. Thank you both.

Dr. Amanda Diekman Thank you.

Bill Sherman If you’re interested in organizational thought leadership, then I invite you to subscribe to the OrgTL newsletter. Each month we talk about the people who create, curate and deploy thought leadership on behalf of their organizations. Go to the website, and choose ‘Join our Newsletter’. I’ll leave a link to the website as well as my LinkedIn profile in the show notes. Thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing what you thought of the show.

Bill Sherman works with thought leaders to launch big ideas within well-known brands. He is the COO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Bill on Twitter

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