Monday, September 8, 2014

[Yasmin_discussions] A response

Roger and Yasminers:

There are three undeniable facts about me: 1. I am African American and
part of a group underrepresented in STEM; 2. I am female and part of an
underrepresented group; and 3. I am an artist and part of a group who
bridges the arts, culture and STEM. This latter affiliation is important
because that is where I have seen engagement of the first two among
underrepresented groups.

I taught courses with Computational Media students at Georgia Tech and,
over four years, I noticed the diversity of students increasing from
primarily white and male to half (male and female), to more ethnically
diverse. Take, for example, the African American, female CM student who
expressed an interest in Afrofuturism, a critical analysis, framework and
aesthetic based on this group's engagement with science fiction and cyber

Because of my close affiliation with artists of color I recognized their
engagements with STEM, often outside of academia. Artists seems to be the
most open to cross-disciplinary or interdisciplinary exploration--just
don't call it STEM. STEAM is okay.

In other words, in order to foster diversity, programs not only need a
strong social/human-centered approach but also one that embraces diversity
of content and perspectives in STEM. For me, it was art that opened the
door to mathematics and computation.

I am working on building a STEAM Lab in an urban high school and it was
important to the headmaster that she introduce me as Dr. Gaskins. Why?
Because she felt it was important for the students (80% African American
and Latino) to see an African American, female artist with a doctorate, so
I am now:

Nettrice R. Gaskins, Ph.D.

*Nettrice R. Gaskins, Ph.D.*
STEAM Lab Director
Boston Arts Academy
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