In DepthScientific Workforce

NSF makes a new bid to boost diversity

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Science  04 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6277, pp. 1017
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6277.1017

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Despite decades of work, scholars are still struggling to understand why women, many minorities, people with disabilities, and other groups are underrepresented in U.S. science and engineering. Last week, in what could be the signature program of her 6-year term, National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Córdova launched a 5-year, $75 million initiative aimed at creating a more diverse technical community. But scholars attending an NSF-sponsored workshop on the science of broadening participation held 2 days after the announcement say the agency may be putting the cart before the horse in funding potential solutions without knowing the underlying factors. It's also not clear how the new INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science) initiative will differ from NSF's existing $750-million-a-year portfolio of dozens of programs that pursue similar goals, and how it might affect them.