To Achieve Equity, STEM Needs Systems Change

By Lorelle Espinosa, Julie Posselt

Leaders in two scientific professions made bold and urgent statements about the need for systemic change in their fields. The American Psychological Association adopted a resolution apologizing for its role in systemic racism, recognizing that it had been “complicit in contributing to systemic inequities” and committing to ”immediate actions of remedy and repair, in addition to long-term actions.”

The Astro2020 Decadal Survey–a systematic assessment of priorities for the next decade–was also released last month. For the first time, astronomy assessed not only the field’s intellectual progress but also the state of the profession. It offered a comprehensive and integrated set of actions for overcoming “a systemic failure of the Profession to attract, retain, and advance diverse talent.”  

From our vantage points as a leading scholar of equity in science and as the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s program director for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in STEM higher education, these ambitious visions for systemic change are promising. Without systemic change, efforts to remedy racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination in the STEM fields will continue to occur at the margins, reinforcing the status quo. This is particularly true in STEM graduate education, where the next generation of scientists is socialized to norms, practices, and networks of knowledge production. 

> Read the entire article in Diverse Issues in Higher Education