Policy ForumDiversity in Science

Without inclusion, diversity initiatives may not be enough

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Science  15 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6356, pp. 1101-1102
DOI: 10.1126/science.aai9054

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Summary

Diversity among scientists can foster better science (1, 2), yet engaging and retaining a diversity of students and researchers in science has been difficult (3). Actions that promote diversity are well defined (4), organizations are increasingly focused on diversity (5), and many institutions are developing initiatives to recruit and enroll students from underrepresented minority (URM) groups (racial, ethnic, gender, sexual identity, or persons with disabilities). Yet representation of URM groups in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields lag behind demographics in society at large (35), and many URM students feel unwelcome in academic departments and in scientific fields. Why is progress so limited (6, 7)? We see a widespread and under-acknowledged disconnect between initiatives aimed at increasing diversity in academic and professional institutions and the experience of URM students (including many of us authors) (6, 7). We argue that failure to grasp foundations of this disconnect is the crux of why diversity initiatives fail to reach the students that they were made to recruit. We believe that addressing this will resonate with other individuals and groups and help advance discussion in the scientific community.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.