EPI•STEM Lecture Series: A talk by Prof Becky Wai-Ling Packard

Professor of Psychology and Education,Becky_Wai_Ling_Packard
Mount Holyoke College,
United States of America


Tuesday 15 March, 11h30,
Room A1-065
Title of Talk:

From programs to policy-making: Building the STEM workforce in the United States and Ireland


For decades, the United States has invested significant resources to grow a domestic workforce in science and technology with the goal of staying competitive within the global economy. For example, women remain severely underrepresented in computer science and engineering fields, and low-income students remain concentrated in trade-based community college programs, with too few making a transfer to earn four-year degrees. In this talk, I present data from institution-level mentoring programs that have worked to change the experience for individual learners (in computer science and those pursuing transfer pathways) and why those programs have worked. Despite gains, I discuss how such programs face limits to creating a larger scope for impact, and where policy-making can make a difference in systemic reform. I conclude with my goals of learning from Ireland’s educational policies focused on the STEM workforce.



Dr. Becky Wai-Ling Packard earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1995 and her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology in 1999. She has been on the faculty at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts (USA) since 1999, and currently is Professor of Psychology and Education. In addition, she is the Director of the Weissman Center for Leadership, where she oversees new faculty mentoring, teaching and learning, as well as a range of community engagement and academic writing programs. Packard’s scholarly research, which focuses on mentoring, the persistence of women and low-income students, and professional identity development in science and technology fields, has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, and she is a co-PI on a Google-funded computer science education initiative to promote diverse women in computer science. In 2005, she won the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on early career scientists. Currently, her Whiting Foundation fellowship focuses on what can be learned from Ireland’s educational policies and practices support women and low-income students in science and technical fields. Her website is: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/~bpackard.