Vicky McArthur, the director of Carleton’s Media Production and Design program, has won a Research Achievement Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to research in her field.

McArthur will use the award to support an innovative project to introduce a much younger age group of girls to the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

McArthur’s project, Of Crafts and Code: A Longitudinal, Scaffolded Approach to STEM Outreach Programs for Grade One Girls in Ontario, will develop and pilot a longitudinal STEM-based curriculum aimed at young elementary school children.

Researchers have demonstrated that early exposure to STEM increases student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math. Yet girls as young as six years old are already being positioned by society as outsiders in relation to these subjects, reinforcing the gender disparity in STEM at a very early age.

“For well over a decade, researchers have experimented with interventionist approaches to address this gender disparity in STEM,” McArthur said. “However, these workshops are typically short in duration, target much older participants, such as middle school students.”

McArthur’s project seeks to overcome the limitations of earlier work by targeting girls at a much younger age by working with elementary school children, aged 6–8, before society has had a chance to make them think STEM isn’t for them.

Tackling the lack of representation of women in STEM isn’t new territory for McArthur, who is currently wrapping up a three-year SSHRC funded study on women in post-secondary game design programs in Ontario.

“It is evident that we need to identify approaches that change girls’ relationship to technology from a much earlier age,” she said.

The Bachelor of Media Production and Design (BMPD) was launched in 2018 as a collaborative effort of Carleton’s nationally recognized Journalism Program, housed in the School of Journalism and Communication, and the university’s School of Information Technology.

Students acquire the editorial skills and the computer programming and design knowledge to build multimedia non-fiction stories for charities, research institutions, corporations, museums, governments, media companies and everyone in-between who recognizes a need to deliver messages to an online or mobile audience.

When BMPD’s first graduates emerge next year, they will have the skills to present stories and supporting information in innovative formats that will enlighten, inform and entertain online and mobile readers, listeners and viewers – ultimately contributing to a broader and deeper understanding of how we connect with each other in the 21st century to build stronger societies.

Thursday, March 4, 2021 in , ,
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