NSF EHR Advisory Committee Considers Racial Equity in STEM, Renaming of Directorate
NSF EHR Advisory Committee Considers Racial Equity in STEM, Renaming of Directorate

June 2021

On May 26–27, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Education and Human Resources (EHR) Advisory Committee held its spring meeting. The meeting agenda included a range of topics that focused on initiatives with the goal of increasing racial equity in STEM, ways to evaluate NSF’s programs for broadening participation, and rebranding EHR.

The meeting kicked off with a welcome of new members to the committee, including Tom Brock, director of the Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University; Melissa Collins, second-grade teacher at the John P. Freeman Optional School; Ada Monzon, founder and president of the board of directors for EcoExploratorio: Museo de Ciencias de Puerto Rico; Becky Wai-Ling Packard, professor of psychology and education at Mount Holyoke College; and Nicole Smith, research professor and chief economist for the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

The committee members heard from EHR staff on aligning agency-wide efforts to broaden participation. This conversation included a presentation on NSF and federal agency efforts overall, such as the Biden executive order on racial equity, missing millions of underrepresented persons in the STEM workforce in the National Science Board’s Vision 2030, and a recent report from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering. In addition, EHR staff highlighted several funding opportunities for working to increase equity: Racial Equity in STEM Education, Advancing Innovation and Impact in Undergraduate STEM Education at Two-year Institutions, and Supplemental Funding for Postdoctoral Researchers to Mitigate COVID-19 Impacts on Research Career Progression.

Okhee Lee provided an update on the Broadening Participation Working Group that is seeking to develop metrics for monitoring and assessment, data collection, and reporting requirements for NSF’s broadening participation activities. In analyzing EHR CAREER grants as a prototype for evaluating activities across NSF, she urged some caution in interpretation, as 1 of 5 grant recipients does not report demographic data. She also noted that the limited number of grants included as part of the pilot study could lead to biases in interpreting the data and related impact on research productivity. Overall recommendations included a systematic review of potential exemplars, urging “civic duty to field” for NSF grantees to report demographic data, developing a dashboard highlighting findings and possible public panels to highlight success of initiatives, increasing funding for CAREER, and developing indicators to evaluate efforts.

The committee also discussed potential name changes for EHR and the Division of Human Resource Development (HRD). The HRD proposal noted a deficit framework that is also outdated. The proposed new name for HRD is “Division of Equity for Excellence in STEM.” After a discussion of ideas for renaming EHR, the proposed new name is “Directorate for STEM Education,” with the acronym EDU.

The fall EHR Advisory Committee meeting will be held on November 3–4. It is anticipated that the meeting will be virtual.

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