National Academies Release Report on Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEMM Organizations
National Academies Release Report on Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEMM Organizations

February 2023

On February 14, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released a consensus report, Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEMM Organizations. A NASEM committee undertook this report in response to growing interest in addressing structural racism after the murder of George Floyd in 2020 and amid renewed federal agency and congressional interest, including a formal request from former representative and chairwoman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). The committee producing this report was co-chaired by Gilda A. Barabino (Olin College of Engineering) and Susan T. Fiske (Princeton University).

The report covers several themes, noted in the committee’s charge:

  • Review the research and evidence from lived experience on the ways in which racism impedes STEMM careers for historically minoritized racial and ethnic groups.
  • Identify principles for sustainable change of organizational culture to address racism and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Review and synthesize the existing research on methods to improve the recruitment, retention, and advancement of members of historically minoritized racial and ethnic groups pursuing STEMM careers, and identify promising policies and practices for changing existing systems and structures.
  • Identify examples of effective strategies to advance antiracism in STEMM organizations.
  • Define a research agenda to address gaps in knowledge in the evidence base to advance antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The NASEM committee reviewed the historical and cultural context leading to systemic, structural, and institutional racism; population demographics; lived experiences; consequences of and responses to racial bias in STEMMM, the role of STEMM “gatekeepers”; and the roles of diverse teams and leadership in developing a culture of antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

From this there followed several key recommendations for action:

  • Federal funding agencies, private philanthropies, and other grantmaking organizations should provide increased opportunities for grants, awards, and other forms of support to increase understanding of how the policies, programs, and practices of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) support students and faculty. Notably, one issue for further investigation is understanding the core principles of historically based programs at minority-serving institution (MSIs) and how to translate them to predominantly White institutions of higher education and other STEMM organizations. In addition, predominantly White institutions should seek sustainable partnerships with all MSIs.
  • Data collection organizations, such as the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics, should collect and share online with the public information on the demographics of students entering college planning to study STEM and their subsequent educational outcomes, disaggregated by race and ethnicity, gender, and field of study.
  • Organizational leaders should take action to redress individual bias and discrimination as well as organizational processes that reproduce harm and negative outcomes for people from minoritized racial and ethnic groups at critical points of access and advancement. This action should include a review of evaluation criteria and decision-making practices (i.e., in college admissions, hiring and wage-setting, promotion and advancement) to understand if and to what degree existing standards perpetuate underlying racial and ethnic inequities.

The recommendations also highlight specific areas of practice that leaders and gatekeepers in STEMM organizations can take to improve minoritized people’s individual and interpersonal experiences in STEMM educational and professional environments and to create climates that promote inclusion, dignity, and belonging.

The report also includes a research agenda proposed by the NASEM committee, focused on:

  • history and contemporary structures, including the potential impact of reparations on STEMM outcomes of minoritized populations and the impact of structural financial investments in communities of minoritized individuals in the United States;
  • the role of organizations, including how federal agencies could use their convening and grant-making powers to support fundamental change in STEMM organizations that use and depend on their resources, as well as student persistence in STEMM degrees across STEMM disciplines;
  • the role of team-based interventions that could reduce bias or increase inclusion in STEMM; and
  • the role of interpersonal and individual dynamics, including the conditions that perpetuate racism, and the experiences of Indigenous, Latin, and Black individuals in STEMM education and the STEMM workforce.

AERA will be featuring a session on this report as part of the Research and Science Policy Forum during the 2023 AERA Annual Meeting. Additional details are forthcoming.