Promoting rising inclusion and STEM motivation

Our Approach and Goals

During Grades 7-9, adolescents begin to form their adult identity and choose pursuits that fit their values and self-beliefs. Some girls never consider STEM careers because they see science and technology as a poor fit to their personal values. Others feel unwelcome by peers who fail to acknowledge, validate, or respect their abilities. Either obstacle can inhibit girls from developing STEM as a core identity and taking advanced math and science coursework.


How can we make STEM a more attractive and meaningful option for adolescent girls and boys alike? Project PRISM aims to establish best practices for boosting girls’ belonging in STEM while bolstering boys’ respect for girls’ abilities.


High School

Key Obstacle

Lack of Perceived Fit


Change boy’s biases and girls’ perceived fit into STEM to change behaviour.

In partnership with Actua, Project PRISM tests the long-term benefits of interventions delivered to students in junior high and high school during a week-long science camp that seeks to:

  • Combat obstacles girls may face in pursuing a STEM career
  • Correct boys’ underestimation of girls’ abilities
  • Expose girls to successful role models 
  • Boost girls’ anticipated fit in future STEM roles
  • Encourage girls to identify with STEM


Research Spotlight

Interventions in Schools

With the easing of the COVID-19 restrictions, the Project PRISM team is preparing to get into schools in the Toronto and Metro Vancouver regions in the upcoming school year. We are developing a social identity based intervention for high school students that aims to change girls’ attitudes and perceptions of STEM and measures effects on their course selection. We’re also developing an intervention to change boy’s perceptions of girl’s STEM ability and change teacher’s behaviour to promote a growth mindset. 

Role Models and Girls’ Future Fit

In an intervention for girls in STEM summer camps at University of Waterloo, Simon Fraser University, and University of British Columbia, we find a diverse set of STEM role models increases girl’s future STEM career aspirations through a sense of future fit in STEM. Specifically, we found middle school girls feel they fit in their science and math classes, but anticipate not fitting in when they go to university. Our intervention, which allows them to connect with women pursuing STEM in university, facilitated girls’ beliefs they will fit in if they study STEM in University. 

Future Directions

In addition to our ongoing lines of research, the Project PRISM team is exploring several future directions, such as:

  • How does changing boys’ behavior impact interactions between boys and girls? How does this manifest in the classroom?
  • What are the implications of our findings for how kids talk to each other about their futures?
  • What questions should parents, guidance counselors, and other adults consider when talking to boys and girls about their futures in STEM?


Photo Credit: Geering Up

Explore Our Findings


Key Leaders

Steve Spencer PhD

Professor of Psychology, University of Waterloo; Robert K. and Dale J. Weary Chair in Social Psychology, Ohio State University Read Bio

Jennifer Steele PhD

Professor of Psychology, York University
Read Bio

Stephen Wright PhD

Canada Research Chair in Social Psychology, Simon Fraser University Read Bio

The Team

The Project PRISM team combines expertise in the science of implicit gender bias, bias reduction, intergroup contact, and STEM outreach.

Andrew Baron PhD

Professor of Developmental Psychology, University of British Columbia Read Bio

Hilary Bergsieker PhD

Associate Professor of Social Psychology, University of Waterloo Read Bio

Emily N. Cyr MA

Graduate Student, University of
A headshot of Grace Denney

Grace Denney BSc

Graduate Student, University of
A headshot of Grace Edmonds

Grace Edmonds BA

Graduate Student, The Ohio State
A headshot of Ariana Hernandez-Colmenares

Ariana Hernandez-Colmenares BA

Graduate Student, The Ohio State
A headshot of Katie Kroeper

Katie Kroeper PhD

Assistant Professor, Sacred Heart University Read Bio

Angie Minah Park PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Management, University of Toronto Mississauga and the Gender and the Economy (GATE) Institute, Rotman School of
Read Bio

Lesley Shannon PhD

NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (BC/Yukon); Professor, School of Engineering Sciences, Simon Fraser University Read Bio
A headshot of Sheryl Staub-French

Sheryl Staub-French PhD

Professor of Civil Engineering, and Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Faculty of Applied Science, University of British Columbia Read Bio

Marissa Traversa MA

Graduate Student, Simon Fraser

Project Partners

Project PRISM proudly partners with University of Waterloo, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, the Ontario Network for Women in Engineering (ONWiE), Engineering Science Quest (ESQ), Geering UP, Actua, Science World, Engineers Canada, Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia, PCL Construction, Canadian Institute of Mining (CIM), the Engineering Change Lab, the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST), and the National Network of NSERC Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering.

Explore The Projects





Changing the Learning of Implicit Math Biases

Project CLIMB




Promoting Rising Inclusion and STEM Motivation

Project PRISM

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