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Museums play such a critical role in attracting and educating kids that we have to make sure they’re telling the stories and holding up role models of all people who’ve been involved in the STEM fields.

Ellen Stofan, Under Secretary for Science and Research, Smithsonian Institution

Science centers and museums have the ability to make a sizable impact on how gender is represented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Each year an estimated 120 million people visit informal science education institutions , and it is important for museum visitors, especially young people, to see diversity in who can contribute to and participate in STEM. STEM professions—traditionally dominated by men—are often associated with persistent stereotypes such as the ideas that men are better suited to scientific careers or that boys are better than girls at math and science. These stereotypes have the power to negatively affect girls and women by pushing them away from these professions. The conscious action of including an equitable and diverse representation of gender within museum content is one approach to challenging stereotypes and encouraging public conversation around gender.

The Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) has partnered with the IF/THEN® Initiative to galvanize the efforts of science centers and museums to increase the number of women STEM professionals depicted within their institutions’ exhibit and educational content.

About the IF/THEN® Initiative and ASTC’s role

Launched by Lyda Hill Philanthropies, the IF/THEN® Initiative is a nationwide effort to advance women innovators in STEM fields and inspire the next generation of girls. Built on the mantra, “If we support a woman in STEM, then she can change the world,” IF/THEN® has worked with partners across industries to create a diverse coalition that is activating a culture shift by undertaking projects to increase the representation of women and gender minorities in STEM fields.

As a member of the IF/THEN® Coalition, ASTC—in partnership with the National Girls Collaborative Project—has three main strands of work:

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The Gender Representation Toolkit
Designed to help museums collect data on the visual representation of gender in exhibits, websites, programming, and other museum content, this toolkit can help drive change toward more equitable gender representation.

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The IF/THEN® Collection
Browse thousands of photos, videos, and other media of women in STEM fields to use across all museum content. Access to the Collection is available at no cost for ASTC-member institutions.

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IF/THEN® Grants
ASTC is awarding $700,000 in IF/THEN® Gender Equity Grants to ASTC-member museums in the U.S. to support projects that highlight women and gender minorities in STEM. Read about some of the grant projects on the ASTC blog.

Other ASTC Resources

  • Read Gender Representation in Science Center and Museum Content: Findings from ASTC’s Gender Representation Toolkit, a report on how museums portray gender in their images and videos.
  • Explore resources about gender equity and inclusion.

Have questions? Reach out to ifthen@astc.org to learn more.

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