Careers in science, engineering, technology, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) offer opportunities to advance knowledge, contribute to the well-being of communities, and support the security, prosperity, and health of the United States. Many women, however, do not pursue or persist in these careers or advance to leadership positions. The bulk of evidence indicates that underrepresentation of women in STEMM—including at leadership levels—is driven by a wide range of structural, cultural, and institutional patterns of bias, discrimination, and inequity that do not affect men of comparable ability and training.
To date, there have been seven National Academies reports published over the past two decades that have addressed causes and consequences of the underrepresentation of women in science, engineering, and medicine. Among those consequences are:
- A national labor shortage in many science, engineering, and medical professions, particularly in technical fields, that cannot be filled unless institutions and organizations recruit from a broad and diverse talent pool.
- Lost opportunities for innovation and economic gain, particularly since research shows that more diverse teams generate more innovative solutions to problems, publish higher impact articles, and raise a company’s bottom line. In other words, there are opportunity costs to perpetuating a scientific workforce that lacks diversity.
- Lost talent as a result of discrimination, unconscious bias, and sexual harassment, which often prevents women from pursuing careers in science, engineering, and medicine.
In this report, which is based on an analysis of current research, the committee provides a range of stakeholders with actionable recommendations on how to take coordinated action to drive necessary changes to the system of science, engineering, and medical education, research, and employment. The committee’s recommendations are not aimed at “fixing the women,” but instead focus on changing the culture through systemic actions. To do so will require the men and women in Congress, the White House, federal funding agencies (particularly the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation), colleges and universities, and professional societies to approach this issue armed with a heightened sense of urgency and an evidence-based strategy for action.
This report aims to provide both.
The committee was tasked by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and L’Oreal USA to do three things: (1) carry out an analysis and synthesis of the current research on the factors that drive gender disparities in recruitment, retention, and advancement across a range of scientific, engineering, and medical disciplines and throughout the educational and career life course; (2) review the research on evidence-based strategies and practices that research has shown can improve the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in these fields, with a particular emphasis on improving the representation and inclusion of women of color; and (3) an exploration of why effective interventions have not been scaled up or adopted by more institutions.
In short, the report addresses four questions:
- What is the problem? (Chapters 1 and 2)
- What are possible solutions? (Chapters 3 and 4)
- Why don’t we see more progress? (Chapter 5)
- What can be done to open doors for women in STEMM? (Recommendations) (Chapter 6)
See Chapter 1 for the full statement of task.
The committee reached six major conclusions, which are supported by the findings that appear at the end of each chapter in the report.
Conclusion 1: Although the absolute number of women earning degrees across science, engineering, and medical fields has increased in recent years, women—especially women of color—are underrepresented relative to their presence in the workforce and the U.S. population. National patterns of underrepresentation vary by career stage, race and ethnicity, and discipline.
Conclusion 2: Bias, discrimination, and harassment are major drivers of the underrepresentation of women in science, engineering, and medicine; they are often experienced more overtly and intensely by women of intersecting identities (e.g., women of color, women with disabilities, LGBTQIA1 women).
Conclusion 3: While some institutions have seen improvements in the representation of women in science, engineering, and medical education and careers, national patterns of underrepresentation are still prevalent at most institutions, especially for women of color.
Conclusion 4: There are numerous effective, evidence-based strategies and practices that institutions can adopt to improve the recruitment, retention, and advancement of White women across a broad range of scientific, engineering, and medical disciplines and multiple stages of the educational and career pathway. However, additional investigation is needed specifically to understand how to support more effectively the participation of women of color and women of other intersecting identities in science, engineering, and medicine.
Conclusion 5: Improving recruitment and retention of women in STEMM throughout their education and training is important, particularly in mathematics-intensive fields such as computer science and engineering. Educational strategies that challenge stereotypes about the essential attributes of a successful STEMM professional and about the nature of work in STEMM can increase interest, improve performance, and instill a sense of belonging in these fields among White women, women of color, and other underrepresented groups (e.g., first-generation college students and men of color).
Conclusion 6: Both research literature and the findings of focus groups that were carried out by the independent nonprofit research institute RTI International on behalf of this study point to a common set of conditions that support institutional adoption of practices to improve the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women, including:
- Committed leadership at all levels, especially from those in positions of authority (such as policy makers, college and university presidents and deans, and individual faculty that manage training programs and large laboratories) who can implement, allocate resources toward, and monitor progress on new policies and strategies that close the gender gap.
- Dedicated financial and human resources—including new or re-directed funds and appropriately compensated individuals in positions of power and authority whose work is dedicated toward opening doors to opportunity and success for women.
1 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual.
- Accountability and data collection—especially when used as a tool to inform and incentivize progress.
- Adoption of an intersectional approach that explicitly and concretely addresses the challenges faced by women of color and other groups who encounter multiple, cumulative forms of bias and discrimination.
THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF PUBLIC POLICY
This report has multiple audiences because underrepresentation of women in STEMM is a systemic problem that must be addressed by many actors and across many levels. However, the committee has placed significant emphasis in this report on policy change. Congress, the White House, and government agencies have both the capacity and the obligation to assume an important catalytic role in incentivizing the creation and implementation of policies, programs, and strategies to mitigate the biases and barriers currently undermining the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in science, engineering, and medicine. Accordingly, although much of the leadership responsibility falls on faculty and administrators in the nation’s colleges and universities to remedy inequities within the academic community, the policy community has powerful levers to encourage innovation and action.
The committee’s recommendations offer guidance to leaders from multiple sectors on how to move forward with intentional, evidence-based strategies and policies to improve recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in science, engineering, and medicine and thereby significantly enhance national prosperity, security, and well-being.
The committee’s recommendations are grouped into four broad categories, which are targeted at incentivizing and informing the broad adoption of evidence-based promising practices for improving the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in science, engineering, and medicine:
- Driving transparency and accountability. Institutions must articulate and deliver on measurable goals and benchmarks that are regularly monitored and publicly reported. Multiple studies have demonstrated that transparency and accountability can drive behavior change.
- Adopting data-driven approaches to address underrepresentation of women in STEMM. The committee recommends a targeted data-driven approach to closing the gender gap in science, engineering, and medicine. Such an approach includes, for example, dissecting the barriers by discipline and career stage, recognizing explicitly that interventions and
strategies that generally work well for White women may not work well for women of color and, in addition, using disaggregated data collection, analysis, and monitoring as the basis for constructing specific interventions within the unique context of each institution.
- Rewarding, recognizing, and resourcing equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts. Equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts by institutions are often hindered by a lack of sufficient resources and by the expectation that individuals, particularly women and men of color, who are most affected by these issues, will assume a leadership role in promoting positive change without appropriate compensation, authority, or promise of reward or recognition.
- Filling knowledge gaps. Although scholarly research on gender disparities in science, engineering, and medicine has yielded an abundance of information that can be applied toward reaching gender equity, there are critical knowledge gaps that require closer attention.
These four broad categories are not, in fact, distinct, but rather are fundamentally interconnected components of a complex system of actors, incentives, and information. Drivers of transparency and accountability yield new information that can inform targeted, data-driven interventions, while at the same time providing incentives for greater resource allocation toward equity, diversity, and inclusion. The committee contends that the interconnectedness of these recommendations underlies their strength. This is not to say that individual recommendations, if implemented by stakeholders, cannot have a tangible impact, but that systemic change is needed to effect rapid change on this issue and is suited to a systemic approach.
In addition to high-level recommendations, for each recommendation the committee offers a series of implementation actions designed to provide stakeholders with specific practical advice. In many instances, the committee intentionally developed these implementation actions so that they can take advantage of existing infrastructure and activities and modify them in specific ways to facilitate execution of the recommendations.
I. DRIVING TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
The legislative and executive branches of the federal government have the power to serve as drivers of transparency and accountability in the scientific, engineering, and medical enterprise. In Chapter 5, the committee found that transparency and accountability are critical levers for driving positive change in equity and diversity efforts. Therefore, the committee recommends several actions that can increase public transparency and accountability so that the nature,
extent, and impact of federal agency and university efforts will ensure equity, diversity, and inclusion in the scientific, engineering, and medical workforce. In addition to increasing transparency and accountability, these recommendations serve other functions. For example, if implemented with fidelity, the recommendations can highlight the extent to which each federal agency makes equity, diversity, and inclusion a priority by documenting the qualitative and quantitative impact of their efforts.
RECOMMENDATION 1: The legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government should work together to increase transparency and accountability among federal agencies by requiring data collection, analysis, and reporting on the nature, impact, and degree of investment in efforts to improve the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in STEMM, with an emphasis on existing efforts that take an intersectional approach.
Action 1-A: The director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF) co-chairs of the Subcommittee on Safe and Inclusive Research Environments of the Joint Committee on the Research Environment, should annually catalog, evaluate, and compare the various efforts by the federal science agencies to broadly support the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in science, engineering, and medicine. The director should task the subcommittee with publishing an annual, open-access report, modeled after NSF’s summary table on programs to broaden participation in their annual budget request to Congress, that documents existing programs at each agency, with particular emphasis on programs that take an intersectional approach, accounting for the experiences of women of color and women of other intersecting identities (e.g., women with disabilities, LGBTQIA), and the qualitative and quantitative impact of these programs, using program evaluation metrics and data, when collected.2
Action 1-B: Congress should commission a study by an independent entity, such as the Government Accountability Office, to offer an external evaluation and review of the existing federal programs focused on supporting greater equity, diversity, and inclusion in science, engineering, and medicine. Such a study should result in a publication that documents the nature, impact across
2 The committee recognizes that programs will have different metrics of success, depending on what the goals of the program are and that direct comparison of programs across agencies will not be possible. However, the evaluation will examine the data collected on the outcomes of the programs included and the extent to which the program met its goals.
various groups, and prioritization of these programs, as described above, across federal agencies.
RECOMMENDATION 2: Federal agencies should hold grantee institutions accountable for adopting effective practices to address gender disparities in recruitment, retention, and advancement and carry out regular data collection to monitor progress.
Action 2-A: Federal funding agencies should carry out an “equity audit” for grantee institutions that have received a substantial amount of funding over a long period of time to ensure that the institution is working in good faith to address gender and racial disparities in recruitment, retention, and advancement. Institutions could be electronically flagged by the funding agency for an equity audit after a certain length of funding period is reached. An evaluation of the representation of women among leadership should be included in such an audit. Equity audits should include a statement from institutions to account for the particular institutional context, geography, resource limitations, and mission and hold that institution accountable within this context. It should also account for progress over time in improving the representation and experiences of underrepresented groups in science, engineering, and medicine and should indicate remedial or other planned actions to improve the findings of the audit. The equity audit should result in a public facing report that will be available on the agency’s website.
Action 2-B: Federal agencies should consider institutional and individual researchers’ efforts to support greater equity, diversity, and inclusion as part of the proposal compliance, review, and award process. To reduce additional administrative burdens, agencies should work within existing proposal requirements to accomplish this goal. For example, NSF should revise the guidance to grantees on NSF’s “Broader Impact” statements, and NIH should revise the guidance to grantees on the “Significance” section in the research plan to include an explicit statement on efforts by the prospective grantee and/or institution to promote greater equity, diversity, and inclusion in science, engineering, and medicine. While many grantees currently describe equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts as part of these sections of NSF and NIH proposals, historically, these sections of the proposals have served, first and foremost, to document the societal impact of the research (e.g. addressing climate change, curing cancer, etc.). The latter function of these sections of the proposal is critical and should not be replaced by the description of equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts. Rather this section of the proposal should be expanded to include commentary on both of these critical components of federally funded research. Moreover, these sections of
proposals should be scored and taken seriously in funding recommendations by review panels and funding decisions by agency personnel. If such sections of proposals are given different consideration by different institutes, departments, and directorates, effort should be made to standardize the weight given to these sections of the proposal across the agency. For example, the National Science Board could carry out a review of past NSF awards to determine how the NSF Directorates have accounted for gender equity, diversity, and inclusion among the metrics evaluated in proposals submitted to NSF.
II. TARGETED, DATA-DRIVEN INTERVENTIONS BY COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES3
In many ways, the recommendations in this section represent the most direct action items of this report. These recommendations are based on the committee’s comprehensive analysis of data on specific strategies and best practices that can improve the participation and advancement of women in science, engineering, and medicine.
The recommendations offered by the committee in this section also outline a change process. The process starts with an administrative unit (e.g., department, school, or university) collecting, analyzing, and monitoring quantitative and qualitative data to diagnose specific problems with recruitment, retention, and advancement and then to take action to address shortcomings by drawing upon existing research and practices to adopt targeted, evidence-based solutions. The next step in the process is to repeat the data collection and monitoring to determine whether the treatment has been effective or whether a new approach is needed. The final step in the process is to formally institutionalize effective practices through policy changes so they can sustain transitions in leadership, budget fluctuations, and other potential disruptors that could undermine the sustainability of the effort.
The committee recommends a change process, rather than a single blueprint for action, because there is no single approach that will work in every institutional context. Institutions vary in mission, student demographics, student needs, and resource constraints and a particular strategy may work well at one institution and poorly at another. For this reason, the committee recommends that institutions adopt or adapt the strategies and practices outlined in this report and iterate over time to develop an approach that will work well for their particular institution and the people it serves.
3 Because there is a significant academic orientation to this report—with college and university administrators being a primary audience—the committee has configured recommendations targeted directly to higher education leaders. Many of the ideas and recommendations here, however, can be easily adopted or adapted by private sector employers and government agency employers that also aim to close the gender gap in science, engineering, and medical fields.
RECOMMENDATION 3: College and university deans and department chairs should annually collect, examine, and publish4 data on the number of students, trainees, faculty, and staff, disaggregated by gender and race/ethnicity, to understand the nature of their unit’s particular challenges with the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women and then use this information to take action (see Recommendations 5 and 7 for guidance on specific strategies and practices leaders can adopt or adapt to address issues with recruitment, retention, and advancement, piloting and modifying them as appropriate, such that they are effective within the particular context of the institution).
Action 3-A: College and university deans and department chairs should collect and monitor department-level demographic data, leveraging data already being collected by their institution in compliance with data reported to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, annually to determine whether there are patterns of underrepresentation among students, trainees, residents, clinical fellows, faculty, and staff, including in leadership roles. Specifically, deans and department chairs should request the following types of data and track these data over time:
- Demographic composition of the students currently enrolled and recently graduated in a given department or college. These data should be disaggregated by gender and race/ethnicity and should be tracked over time.
- Longitudinal demographic composition of the faculty disaggregated by faculty rank, department, gender, and race/ethnicity.
- Longitudinal demographic composition of postdoctoral researchers, residents, clinical fellows and staff scientists, disaggregated by department, gender, and race/ethnicity.
This information should be used to adopt or adapt evidence-based promising and effective practices, taking into account the particular context of the institution (see Recommendation 5).
RECOMMENDATION 4: College and university administrators should dedicate resources to carry out qualitative research on the climate in the school or department and the experiences of underrepresented groups and use this information to shape policies and practices aimed at promoting an inclusive climate and supporting underrepresented groups enrolled or employed at the institution.
4 Except in cases for which reporting such data would publicly identify individuals and breach anonymity. For such data, the report should indicate that the numbers are “too low to report.”
Action 4-A: College and university administrators should work with an evaluator outside the relevant unit to support periodic climate research to assess the climate in the school or department in a manner that is methodologically sound, independent, objective, and free from bias and conflict of interest. Climate research can take the form of surveys, focus groups, and/or interviews.
Action 4-B: Given the extremely low representation of women of color in most science, engineering, and medical fields, administrators and external evaluators should work together to adopt a methodological approach that can protect the anonymity of such individuals and accurately capture their experiences. In some instances, interviews may serve as the most appropriate means to gather this information. It should be noted that, in some settings, researchers from a single institution may not be able to sufficiently protect the anonymity of women of color, who make up an extreme minority in certain fields, and so it may be best to conduct such research across an institutional system. Protecting sensitive, personal information will also be aided by the use of an external consultant that can hold the raw data and report only aggregated findings to the departmental leadership.
RECOMMENDATION 5: Taking into account the institutional context, college and university presidents, deans, department chairs, and other administrators should adopt or adapt actionable, evidence-based strategies and practices (see Implementation Actions 5A—5C) that directly address particular gender gaps in recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in science, engineering, and medicine within their institution, as observed by quantitative and qualitative data analysis and monitoring (see Recommendations 3 and 4 above).
Action 5-A: To work to improve the recruitment and retention of women in STEMM education, faculty and administrators in higher education and K-12 education should adopt the following approaches:
- Reorganize STEMM courses to incorporate active learning exercises (e.g., having students work in groups, use clickers) and integrated peer-led team learning.
- Promote a growth mindset by communicating to students that ability in STEMM fields can be improved by learning.
- Challenge stereotypical assumptions about the nature of STEMM careers by communicating to students that scientists often work in teams, conduct research focused on helping others, and have lives outside of work.
- Take steps to expose students to a diverse set of role models in STEMM that challenge the persistent societal stereotype that STEMM professionals are heterosexual, cis-gendered, White men. For example, faculty and administrators should give assignments that require students to learn about the work of women who have made significant contributions to the field; work to ensure that the faculty in the department are diverse, such that students take courses and conduct research with people from a range of different demographic groups; and invest in educational materials (e.g., textbooks and other instructional media) that highlight the diverse range of people who have contributed to science, engineering, and medicine.
- Strive for gender balanced classroom and group composition, and take steps to promote equitable classroom interactions.
Action 5-B:5 To address issues with the recruitment of women into academic programs and science, engineering, and medical careers, admissions officers, human resources officers, and hiring committees should:
- Work continuously to identify promising candidates from underrepresented groups and expand the networks from which candidates are drawn.
- Write job advertisements and program descriptions in ways that appeal to a broad applicant pool and use a range of media outlets and forms to advertise these opportunities broadly.
- Interrogate the requirements and metrics against which applicants will be judged to identify and either eliminate or lessen the emphasis given to those that are particularly subject to bias and may also be poor predictors of success (e.g., certain standardized test scores).
- Decide on the relative weight and priority of different admissions or employment criteria before interviewing candidates or applicants.
- Hold those responsible for admissions and hiring decisions accountable for outcomes at every stage of the application and selection process.
- Educate evaluators to be mindful of the childcare and family leave responsibilities often faced by women, especially when considering “gaps” in a resume.
- When possible, use structured interviews in admission and hiring decisions.
- Educate hiring and admissions officials about biases and strategies to mitigate them.
- Increase stipends and salaries for graduate students, postdocs, nontenure-track faculty, and others to ensure all trainees and employees are paid a living wage.
Action 5-C:6 To address issues with retention of women in academic programs and within science, engineering, and medical careers, university and college administrators should:
- Ensure that there is fair and equitable access to resources for all employees and students.
- Take action to broadly and clearly communicate about the institutional resources that are available to students and employees and be transparent about how these resources are allocated.
- Revise policies and resources to reflect the diverse personal life needs of employees and students at different stages of their education and careers and advertise these policies and resources so that all are aware of and can readily access them.
- Create programs and educational opportunities that encourage an inclusive and respectful environment free of sexual harassment, including gender harassment.
- Set and widely share standards of behavior, including sanctions for disrespect, incivility, and harassment. These standards should include a range of disciplinary actions that correspond to the severity and frequency for perpetrators who have violated these standards.
- Create policies that support employees during times when family and personal life demands are heightened—especially for raising young children and caring for elderly parents. For example, stop-the-clock and modified duty policies, which should be available to as wide a group as possible, should be a genuine time-out from work and should not penalize those who take advantage of the policies.
- Provide private space with appropriate equipment for parents to feed infants and, if needed, to express and store milk.
- Create policies and practices that address workers’ need to balance work and family roles (including not only child and family care but also responsibilities for attending to children’s school and extracurricular activities).
- Limit department meetings and functions to specified working hours that are consistent with family-friendly workplace expectations.
Action 5-D: In order to be effective mentors and to create more effective mentorship relationships, faculty and staff should recognize that identities influence academic and career development, and thus are relevant for effective mentorship. As such:
- Institutional leadership should intentionally support mentorship initiatives that recognize, respond to, value, and build upon the power of diversity.
Leaders should intentionally create cultures of inclusive excellence to improve the quality and relevance of the STEMM enterprise.
- Mentors should learn about and make use of inclusive approaches to mentorship such as listening actively, working toward cultural responsiveness, moving beyond “colorblindness,” intentionally considering how culture-based dynamics can negatively influence mentoring relationships, and reflecting on how their biases and prejudices may affect mentees and mentoring relationships, specifically for mentorship of underrepresented mentees.
- Mentees should reflect on and acknowledge the influence of their identities on their academic and career trajectory and should seek mentorship that is intentional in considering their individual lived experiences.
Action 5-E: Institutional leaders, as well as individual faculty and staff, should support policies, procedures, and other infrastructure that allow mentees to engage in mentoring relationships with multiple individuals within and outside of their home department, program, or institution, such as professional societies, external conferences, learning communities, and online networks, with the ultimate goal of providing more comprehensive mentorship support.
Action 5-F: Colleges and universities should provide direct and visible support for targets of sexual harassment. Presidents, provosts, deans, and department chairs should convey that reporting sexual harassment is an honorable and courageous action. Regardless of a target filing a formal report, academic institutions should provide means of accessing support services (social services, health care, legal, career/professional). They should provide alternative and less formal means of recording information about the experience and reporting the experience if the target is not comfortable filing a formal report. Academic institutions should develop approaches to prevent the target from experiencing or fearing retaliation in academic settings.
Action 5-G: Colleges and universities should create “counterspaces”7 on their campuses that provide a sense of belonging and support for women of color and serve as havens from isolation and microaggressions. Such counterspaces can operate within the context of peer-to-peer relationships; mentoring relationships; national STEMM diversity conferences; campus student groups; and science, engineering, and medical departments. Counterspaces can be physical spaces, as well as conceptual and ideological spaces.
7 Researchers have defined counterspaces to be “academic and social safe spaces that allow underrepresented students to: promote their own learning wherein their experiences are validated and viewed as critical knowledge; vent frustrations by sharing stories of isolation, microaggressions, and/or overt discrimination; and challenge deficit notions of people of color (and other marginalized groups) and establish and maintain a positive collegiate racial climate for themselves” (Solorzano and Villalpando, 1998; Solorzano et al., 2000).
RECOMMENDATION 6: Federal agencies should support efforts and research targeted at addressing different profiles of underrepresentation in particular scientific, engineering, and medical disciplines throughout the educational and career life course.
Action 6-A: Given that women are underrepresented in computer science, engineering, and physics as early as the undergraduate level, agencies that support research, training, and education in these fields should incentivize institutions to adopt educational practices that research shows can improve interest and sense of belonging in these fields among women. For instance, the NSF director should direct the deputy directors of the NSF Directorates for Engineering, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, and Mathematical and Physical Sciences to set aside funding and work collaboratively with the Education and Human Resources Directorate to support education grants that address the following:
- Adoption by college and university faculty and administrators of classroom and lab curricula and pedagogical approaches that research has demonstrated improve interest and sense of belonging in computer science, engineering, and physics among women, such as:
- those that incorporate growth mindset interventions that impress upon students that skills and intelligence are not fixed, but, rather, are increased by learning;
- those that highlight that scientists and engineers are well positioned and equipped to do work that has a positive societal impact;
- those that highlight the contributions of a diverse array of people to the scientific, engineering, and medical enterprise today and throughout history.
- Research and development of new models of curriculum development in engineering, computer science, and physics that take into account the experience level that different students bring to introductory courses and draw upon the lessons learned from successful programs at other institutions (e.g., Harvey Mudd, Carnegie Mellon).
- Development of new media (e.g., podcasts, videos, television, graphics, and instructional materials [e.g., textbooks, syllabi]) that provide students with a diverse array of role models and feature the diversity of individuals whose contributions to science, engineering, and medicine are substantial but may not be as well known by the public. Such an effort could benefit from an interagency collaboration between NSF and the National Endowment for the Arts, which could operate under an existing memorandum of understanding (MOU) between these two agencies.
Action 6-B: Across all science, engineering, and medical disciplines, federal agencies should:
- Address funding disparities for women researchers, particularly for women of color. For example, NIH should address disparities in success rates of Type 1 R01 awards for African American women compared with White women;
- Directly (e.g., through supplements) and indirectly (e.g., through specific programs) support the work-life integration needs of women (and men) in science, engineering, and medicine; and
- In addition to programs designed to support mentorship, support investigation into the impact of sponsorship on advancement of both White women and women of color into leadership roles in science, engineering, and medicine.
III. PRIORITIZE, RECOGNIZE, REWARD, AND RESOURCE
The committee recommends that institutions, both academic and governmental, sustainably allocate resources and authority to the leaders of equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts, while providing positive incentives for faculty—in the context of promotions and rewards and recognition by honorific and professional societies—that could promote culture change yielding broader recognition that fostering an inclusive scientific, engineering, and medical enterprise is a broadly shared responsibility.
RECOMMENDATION 7: Leaders in academia and scientific societies should put policies and practices in place to prioritize, reward, recognize, and resource equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts appropriately.
Action 7-A: University administrators should institutionalize effective policies and practices so that they can sustain transitions in leadership by, for example, writing them into the standing budget and creating permanent diversity, equity, and inclusion-related positions.
Action 7-B: University and college administrators should appropriately compensate and recognize individuals responsible for equity and diversity oversight and equip them with sufficient resources and authority.
Action 7-C: Academic senates of universities should adopt amendments to faculty-review committee criteria that formally recognize, support, and reward efforts toward increasing diversity and creating safe and inclusive research environments. Adopting these criteria sets the expectation that promoting inclusivity is everyone’s
responsibility and encourages faculty involvement in university diversity initiatives. Formal recognition of efforts to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion should include consideration of effective mentoring, teaching, and service during hiring decisions, in determining faculty time allocations, and in decisions on advancement in rank, including tenure decisions.
Action 7-D: Professional and honorific societies should:
- Create special awards and honors that recognize individuals who have been leaders in driving positive change toward a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive scientific, engineering, and/or medical workforce.
- Monitor the diversity of nominees and elected members in the society over time.
- Adopt policies that discourage panels of speakers composed entirely of a single demographic group (e.g., White men) at meetings.
RECOMMENDATION 8: Federal agencies and private foundations should work collaboratively to recognize and celebrate colleges and universities that are working to improve gender equity.
Action 8-A: NIH and NSF should collaborate to develop a recognition program that provides positive incentives to STEMM departments and programs on campuses to make diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts a high priority. Departments and programs would compete to be recognized for their success in closing gender gaps in STEMM. Such a program would include multiple rounds: the first to allow departments and programs to develop plans to self-assess their progress and plans toward the goal; the second to create and implement new programs and practices; and the third to show improvement from the original evaluation. In order for institutions to compete equitably for this recognition, departments and programs that apply should compete against similar institutions. For instance, departments and programs that apply could compete only against other institutions within the same Carnegie Classification. After initial exploration of this model by NIH and NSF, other federal agencies could be encouraged to adopt a similar model.
Action 8-B: Federal agencies should provide financial assistance to institutions that would like to be recognized for their efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. These grants would support the resource-intensive data collection that is required to compete for these awards, which, for example, in the United Kingdom often falls to women, and would be granted on a needs-based justification, with priority given to underresourced universities.
Action 8-C: Private foundations should require that awardee institutions complete a self-evaluation, specific to the departmental policies, similar to the New York Stem Cell Foundation’s Initiative on Women in Science and Engineering, which required institutions to complete a gender-equity report card before receiving funding. To continue receiving funding from these private foundations, departments must show improvement, or plans to make improvements, to gender equity in their departments.
IV. FILLING KNOWLEDGE GAPS
Although the committee’s recommendations speak to actions that leaders and employees at academic institutions and in the government can initiate immediately to promote positive change more broadly experienced by women in science, engineering, and medicine, critical knowledge gaps still exist and must be filled, with deliberate speed, to support most effectively the improved recruitment, retention, and advancement of all women in science, engineering, and medicine.
RECOMMENDATION 9: Although scholarly research on gender disparities in science, engineering, and medicine has yielded an abundance of information that can be applied toward reaching gender equity, critical knowledge gaps remain and require very close attention. These include:
- Intersectional experiences of women of color, women with disabilities, LGBTQIA women, and women of other intersecting identities (e.g., age).
- Strategies and practices that can support improved recruitment, retention, and advancement of women of color and women of other intersecting identities.
- Factors contributing to the disproportionate benefit accruing to White women of practices adopted to achieve gender equity.
- Specific factors contributing to successes and failures of institutions that have adopted policies and/or implemented programs aimed at diversifying the science, engineering, and medical workforce.
- Long-term evaluation of the promising practices listed in the report—specifically, how their sustained implementation influences the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women over time.
- Strategies and practices that have been demonstrably most effective in supporting STEMM women faculty and students in nonresearch-intensive institutions, such as community colleges.
- Characteristics of effective male allies and approaches to training allies.
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