WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society, today announced three awards adding up to nearly $20 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Tiger Global Impact Ventures (TGIV) and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. These initiatives will drive a more inclusive science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) ecosystem by:
- Launching a five-year research and professional development initiative to create evidence-based practices to support students from low-income backgrounds to increase access, success, and representation
- Improving postsecondary data collection and use to understand and address LGBTQ scientists’ educational and career trajectories
- Building capacity among multi-institutional teams to create equitable pathways for students from Minority Serving Institutions to earn graduate STEMM degrees
“Who can participate in science and engineering matters. Assembling diverse teams is critical to unlock our country’s full potential to achieve scientific excellence and boost economic prosperity,” said Sudip S. Parikh, Ph.D., chief executive officer at AAAS and executive publisher of the Science family of journals. “If we enable a more diverse and inclusive workforce, diversify our Ph.D. pool and encourage a more global workforce to innovate in the U.S., we will be better prepared to navigate uncertain times and more effectively tackle climate change and other emerging challenges.”
The Inclusive STEMM Ecosystems for Equity & Diversity (ISEED) at AAAS, the winner of these new awards, will lead these three new initiatives — a natural fit for ISEED whose focus is to increase access, engagement and success within STEMM pathways, especially for underrepresented groups.
"Investments in systemic change efforts like these enable us to reimagine the continuum of STEMM education and workforce development to realize a better world through the inclusion of all perspectives,” said Travis York, Ph.D., director for ISEED at AAAS. “The new CHIPS & Science Act, for example, requires a human infrastructure made of highly talented STEMM teachers, students and scholars to implement the bold new vision to accelerate the industries of the future."
Academically talented students from low-income backgrounds are underrepresented in STEM majors and the workforce. With the help of a $17 million grant from the NSF, AAAS will launch a five-year research initiative known as S-STEM Resource and Evaluation Center (REC) to provide professional development support these scholarship recipients and to support the first national study of the outcomes and impacts of this financial aid. By collecting qualitative and quantitative data, the initiative will shed light on the students’ diverse experiences while measuring effective strategies and practices to increase access and representation in STEM.
“We must do more to inspire young talent to go into STEM, we have to make bigger investments in STEM education and training, and must work harder to retain people in STEM careers. Those talented individuals currently not pursuing STEM are key to unleashing innovation at speed and scale,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, NSF director. “The REC will not only help NSF build a community full of diverse scientists and engineers, but it will also offer professional development opportunities for these talented scholars and technical assistance to institutions all over the country, strengthening our national workforce and economy for decades to come.”
Understanding and addressing LGBTQ students’ and scholars’ educational and career trajectories in STEMM is severely constrained due to a lack of accurate sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) demographic data. To increase the access and success of LGBTQ persons in STEMM, TGIV gifted AAAS $2 million to increase LGBTQ inclusion in STEMM by catalyzing data infrastructure. This initiative will shed light on the challenges and opportunities related to collecting, analyzing and utilizing SOGI data in colleges and universities. Once the data is collected, AAAS will develop resources to guide and pilot the ethical and legal data collection, fostering more supportive and inclusive STEMM pathways for LGBTQ students and scholars.
“A diverse and developed technical workforce is critical for companies and communities who want to innovate, compete and thrive in the future,” said Ali Hartman, head of TGIV. “We recognize the importance of engaging and advancing all talent and believe this work by AAAS will ensure better understanding and fuller representation of gender diverse and LGBTQ individuals in STEMM.”
Despite progress, systemic barriers across the scientific ecosystem persist due to structural inefficiencies and exclusionary climates and cultures, resulting in STEMM communities that are not fully inclusive. To help address this issue, The Alfred Sloan P. Foundation gifted AAAS a $626,000 grant to establish the Equitable Pathways Partnership (EPP) program. This initiative will build capacity among multi-institutional teams to create equitable pathways for students from Minority Serving Institutions to earn graduate STEMM degrees.
“We’re excited about the prospect of Sloan grantees benefiting from the AAAS SEA Change infrastructure and offerings — especially given the initiative’s systemic change approach to DEI in STEMM higher education,” said Lorelle Espinosa, Ph.D., director of The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s higher education program. “We look forward to seeing how this new community of institutions evolves and what they can learn from one another in promoting pathways to STEMM graduate education for Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o/x students.”
AAAS has led efforts to increase the participation of marginalized groups, including people of color and those with disabilities in STEMM, since the early 1970s. AAAS has conducted projects and programs, undertaken research, organized convenings, and provided testimony and briefing papers, all in support of diversity, equity and inclusion in STEMM. These funds will help multiply ISEED’s work, reimagining inclusive systems.
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