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Abstract

As the expansion of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning has emerged as a top priority for both educators and policymakers, conversations regarding equity and representation in STEM fields have also garnered substantial (and warranted) attention in the public eye. Demographic statistics in STEM employment and degree conferment point to stark disparities involving an overrepresentation of White and Asian men, while women, Latinxs, and Black people remain underrepresented in those fields. Recently, scholars and educators have developed several concepts and tools to redress these inequities, including the notion of cultivating a “STEM identity,” as well as the importance of integrating arts into STEM (i.e., “STEAM”). This paper seeks to place the concept of STEM identity cultivation in conversation with the objectives of music-specific STEAM (discussed here as “STEMM”) programs. The central question explored throughout this research is: “how (and why) do STEMM organizers and facilitators incorporate music into STEM learning to support the inculcation of a STEM-identity in students from underrepresented populations?” A holistic review of current, germane literature, supplemented with original data from in-depth interviews with STEMM organizers, reveals that the integration of music in STEM learning creates meaningful opportunities for the type of critical, culturally responsive, socio-politically driven learning environments demonstrated to nurture STEM learner identities and empowered students.

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