Red Pen Syndrome restricts access in STEM

March 25, 2021

University Relations

A group of UAF faculty have prepared a poster, "Red Pen Syndrome in STEM: Ailments, Diagnosis, Treatments and Vaccines," that addresses barriers in STEM faced by underrepresented groups.

Some instructors use red pens to correct papers, including correcting student usage or phrasing. In the presentation, the Red Pen Syndrome represents a set of barriers to access, inclusivity, and success for underrepresented groups in STEM and STEM careers. The poster presents its effects and aims to prevent its spread. 

Diagnosing this syndrome will challenge myths that underrepresented students leave STEM fields because they are unprepared and cannot keep up with the rigorous curriculum. Instructors should modify these approaches to create a more welcoming environment immediately.

The poster was co-produced by faculty across UAF, from departments including Biology and Wildlife, the University of Alaska Museum of the North, University Writing, the School of Education and College of Natural Science and Mathematics, and the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development. The poster was created in response to a call for submissions for the American Association of Colleges and Universities March Conference on Diversity, Equity, and Student Success, March 24-26.

References are available on this Google Doc. Please feel free to leave a comment. For more information, email Sarah Stanley at