Re-engineering the "leaky pipeline" metaphor: diversifying the pool by teaching STEM "by stealth"

Petray, Theresa, Doyle, Tanya, Howard, Elise, Morgan, Rhian, and Harrison, Ryl (2019) Re-engineering the "leaky pipeline" metaphor: diversifying the pool by teaching STEM "by stealth". International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 11 (1). pp. 10-29.

PDF (Published version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (376kB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website:


Many attempts to engage diverse audiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) target students already enrolled or interested in STEM subjects. This paper presents qualitative findings on the characteristics and experiences of high school girls who participated in a STEM engagement programme involving drone-flying camps in two locations in regional northern Australia. As expected, the programme attracted students with a STEM interest, yet close to half of the participants named arts and humanities as their favourite subject areas. Our research suggests that engagement activities that primarily target students who already enjoy STEM will inhibit the capacity to attract diverse engineers. Programmes engaging with girls who do not identify as the "STEM type" may broaden engineering recruitment outcomes. Moreover, reimagining STEM beyond the boundaries of the traditional "hard sciences" works to overcome stereotyping that begins early in life (Bond, 2016; Kessels, 2015). We argue that the "pipeline" metaphor is part of the problem: it implies a singular pathway into engineering that is shaped by narrow curricular concepts of STEM education. Instead, we suggest that engineering disciplines should consider recruiting from a "deep pool"—one that recognises and values the dispositions generated through engagement with creative and critical curricula.

Item ID: 58679
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2040-0748
Keywords: gender equity; leaky pipeline; deep pool; STEM engagement; drone-flying camps
Copyright Information: "Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC x 3.0) License." (Journal website)
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2019 03:07
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441004 Social change @ 60%
39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390113 Science, technology and engineering curriculum and pedagogy @ 40%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939904 Gender Aspects of Education @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 423
Last 12 Months: 22
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page