University gets $1 million to fight ‘implicit bias’ in STEM

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) has received a $1 million grant to combat “implicit bias” in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines.

“Very exciting news this morning,” UTSA President Taylor Eighmy tweeted Monday, revealing that the university “has received nearly $1 million[...]to increase diversity and student success in #ComputerScience with *62* new undergraduate scholarships.”

According to the university news service, the five-year grant was provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), a federal agency that aims “to promote the progress of science,” “advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare,” and “secure the national defense.”

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The program is designed to target women, minorities, and “high achieving, low-income” students in an effort to increase diversity within STEM fields.

“With this new program, we’ll connect with underrepresented female, minority, and financially disadvantaged students to remove the implicit bias in the STEM field,” Turgay Korkmaz, one of the professors spearheading the program, said in a statement published by UTSA.

Korkmaz also told Campus Reform that when selecting applicants for the $10,000 per year scholarships, females and minority students will be given priority.

According to UTSA, the $1 million initiative will be known as Increasing Financial Opportunities and Co-Curricular Utilities for Success in Computer Science (I-FOCUS-CS), will award qualifying computer science students up to $10,000 per year. 

“Furthermore, to increase the diversity of UTSA computer science majors, the faculty members will develop new methods and surveys to better identify the academic needs of individual students, monitor the academic progress of each participant and integrate multiple activities based upon the learning needs and progress of individual participants,” the school wrote. 

The program will also look to support students through several other methods in the I-FOCUS program, including tutoring sessions, orientation and “jump start” programs, group meetings, and research conference opportunities and more. 

[RELATED: Prof: Efforts to recruit women for STEM ‘may be backfiring’]

This isn’t the first time the NSF has provided grants to universities to advance a social justice agenda. As reported by Campus Reform last year, the NSF shelled out $3 million in 2017 in an effort to fight “macroaggressions” and “implicit bias” in STEM fields. 

A UTSA College of Education and Human Development’s Department of Educational Psychology professor also recently received a $35,000 grant from the American Educational Research Association (AERA) which is also funded by the NSF, according to the school. 

That grant, announced in April, is likewise aimed towards increasing the participation of women, minorities, first generation students, and students with disabilities in STEM.

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UTSA regards itself as a “next generation Hispanic Serving Institution” with a student population that is almost 53 percent Hispanic, and about 51 percent female. UTSA also claims to have the “No. 1 cybersecurity program in the nation.”

According to the school, the first group of students will be receiving the I-FOCUS-CS funds during the Fall 2018 semester. 

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