AERA Joins Letter Supporting Call for NASEM Study on Systemic Racism in Academia
AERA Joins Letter Supporting Call for NASEM Study on Systemic Racism in Academia

September  2020

AERA joined 80 organizations in a letter sent to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on September 1, thanking her for calling on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to conduct a study on systemic racism in academia.

Rep. Johnson requested the study in a July 29 letter to NASEM President Marcia McNutt. The letter highlighted the need to examine systemic inequities that hinder participation by underserved and marginalized groups in STEM fields. Such a study would include six areas:

  • Review of the research on the ways in which systemic racism in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine affects individuals on college and university campuses, in research labs and field sites, at hospitals/medical centers, and in other research and learning environments.
  • Examination of the extent to and ways in which systemic racism in research and learning environments influences the recruitment, retention, and advancement of historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups pursuing scientific, engineering, technical, and medical careers.
  • Examination of the extent to which systemic racism in science, engineering, and medicine has shaped research agendas and limited the breadth of research topics and the diversity of researchers funded by the federal government.
  • Identification and analysis of the policies, strategies, and practices that have been the most successful in preventing and addressing systemic racism in these settings.
  • Identification and analysis of promising policies, strategies, and practices for restoring the careers of individuals affected by systemic racism in the scientific, technical, and medical workforce.
  • Identification of principles for sustainable organizational culture change to address systemic racism and to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in scientific, technical, and medical studies and careers.

The letter to Johnson from the scientific community expresses the potential of a NASEM study to provide evidence-based practices to address systemic racism in academia. In addition, the signatory groups expressed willingness to work with Rep. Johnson on these issues.

“AERA strongly supports Chairwoman Johnson’s efforts to launch a study by the National Academies to tackle the pervasiveness of systemic racism in STEM,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “We hope that this study can bring to light ways to ensure that racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in STEM fields can be mentored and supported throughout their education to succeed in STEM education and careers.”

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