STEM Fields and Ethnic Women in New Zealand: Issues of Sexism and Racism

STEM Fields and Ethnic Women in New Zealand: Issues of Sexism and Racism

Charles Mpofu (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0174-9.ch011
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Abstract

A critical race theory was used to analyse policies and strategies in place to enable the participation of New Zealand ethnic women of Latin-American, Middle Eastern, and African (MELAA) origin in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields (STEM) in education and industry. The aim was to find out what policy – and other – levers are available for better participation in the STEM fields by the ethnic women's population. The process involved an analysis of publicly available official documents on STEM strategies at national and regional levels. The main findings were that gender issues are expressed in a generic way, either across all ethnic groups, or across the four ethnic groups where the MELAA stands not clearly identifiable in the classifications. Recommendations include the need to develop policies and strategies that account for race and gender equity as part of an agenda to eliminate marginalization of this group.
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Background

In New Zealand and most western High Income Countries (HIC) STEM fields have been seen as critical to the advancement of national economies and competitiveness in the global economy (George, Neale, Van Horne, & Malcolm, 2001; Marginson, Tytler, Freeman, & Roberts, 2013). The New Zealand government d earmarked STEM fields as vehicles for advancing the economy. Thus, the link between universities with industry has been encouraged in tertiary education strategies: the rationale being that STEM subjects are seen as catalysts in achieving economic goals (Ministry of Education, 2014; Mpofu, 2014). For example in most reports it has been argued that mathematical sciences provide direct contributions to profits and savings and underpins a significant proportion (often over 50%) of total business, industry and government activity within New Zealand (Ministry of Research Science and Technology, 1998). This means that the skill gaps identified in STEM at tertiary education institutions and industry are an issue not only for those aspiring for jobs but for the Government’s goals of boosting the economy too.

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