How to boost underrepresented groups’ participation in online STEM education

By Melanie Lefkowitz for the Cornell Chronicle

Online education was once hailed as a potential equalizer, offering science, technology, engineering and math skills to everyone regardless of gender, nationality or socioeconomic status. Online, students could avoid stigmas, such as being one of the only women in a class.

It didn’t turn out that way.

“Very quickly we saw that’s not the case,” said Rene Kizilcec, assistant professor of information science. “Many of the same barriers we see in in-person environments do replicate online, and they get amplified, because so many more people have access to these platforms.”

In new research, Kizilcec found that adding a photo of women and an inclusivity statement to a Facebook ad for a computer science course increased the number of women who clicked on the ad by 26 percent. Similar changes to an enrollment page raised the number of women who signed up for the course by up to 18 percent.

To learn more, read "Inclusive messages boost women’s participation in online STEM classes" from the Cornell Chronicle.