Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity


The University of Washington Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity (CERSE) has been involved in research on science and engineering fields for more than 20 years. The research staff endeavors to contribute to the relevant literature and discourses, explaining the differential participation of individuals belonging to excluded identity groups in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational fields and the workforce. Excluded identity groups in STEM include Blacks, Latinx, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, first generation college students, students from low-income backgrounds, and veterans.

Many of these groups are less likely to choose science and engineering majors in college, and they are less likely to be employed in STEM industries. Research has shown that this variance in college majors and employment is related to differences in self-confidence, self-efficacy, and the culture of STEM, rather than differences in academic preparation and performance.

Our research often utilizes intersectional identity perspectives that examine social identities in conjunction with one another.  We also seek to move away from deficit perspectives and examine how underrepresented groups bring “community cultural wealth” or “funds of knowledge” with them to their educations and workplaces.

Continued research is needed to identify interventions that will result in a more equitable representation of excluded identity groups in the STEM workforce.

CERSE’s recent research projects include studies of:

  • Educational climate for undergraduate students,
  • Models of academic change in engineering and computer science colleges
  • Attrition of women STEM faculty
  • Culture in two engineering departments
  • Program participants’ utilization of diversity programs to create counterspaces

In the past, we have also studied the climate for graduate students, student retention and progress, mentoring,  social and ethical implications of nanotechnology, and the workforce issues in nanoscience and nanotechnology. CERSE also seeks to identify factors that contribute to the recruitment, retention and advancement of students, faculty, and researchers in STEM fields.

Critical Research Questioning Guide: As a center, we are always striving to improve the alignment between our equity values and our research methods. In order to do this, we cultivated a guide that helps us interrogate our research processes, and stay accountable to socially just methods and outcomes. While we don’t always live up to that alignment (full disclosure), this guide helps us improve. Sharing this guide with a variety of audiences has helped us identify areas we originally missed, and we welcome continued contributions and feedback, as it is a living, growing document. The Critical Research Questioning Guide can be found here:
Critical Research Questioning Guide by UW CERSE_June 2019