STEM research and innovations have positively impacted many aspects of our society. Today, the quality of the STEM enterprise must be elevated if the quality of innovation is to meet an increasing complexity of societal needs; and that elevation is inextricably linked to diversifying STEM disciplines. However, an ongoing challenge to STEM diversification continues to reside at the intersection of racial bias and unfettered membership in an academy that reverberates deeply with the historical and ongoing realities of racial oppression of people of color in the United States. Academia was institutionalized to operate within this racialized framework and therefore contains systemic barriers to access, opportunity, and power; these barriers impact success outcomes for marginalized STEM students. When we consider the current racial climate within the United States, coupled with the urgent national need for STEM innovation and scholarship, ensuring marginalized scholar and student success becomes a clear priority. Progress will require looking behind the STEM “cultural curtain” and critical examination of areas that require change if we are to elevate our STEM disciplines. During this talk, we will examine the assets marginalized students and scholars bring that elevate the academy and describe some efforts that have shown success for promoting diversity in STEM. We will also consider how higher education institutions, STEM disciplines, and STEM faculty communities can take decisive action and provide leadership for increasing capacity for noticing and addressing to structural inequities in STEM.
Host: Edmund Bertschinger