As Boston University provost, a renowned geologist and professor, and the mother of a daughter pursuing a PhD, Jean Morrison has a unique perspective on the subject of sexual harassment in the world of scientific research. Morrison’s background was why the US House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology invited her to testify on Wednesday, June 12. The committee asked a small group of higher education leaders to speak about their institutions’ efforts to combat sexual harassment, mainly against women, committed by federally funded researchers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Three universities are embarking on a program designed to recognize effective institutional efforts to attract, retain, and advance underrepresented students and faculty engaged in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Boston University; the University of California, Davis; and the University of Massachusetts Lowell have been selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science as the first institutional awardees in the SEA Change program, an ambitious effort to solve a longstanding problem.
Although women make up almost 50 percent of physics students in high school, they comprise only 10 percent of full professors in the United States. In astronomy, women make up only 15 percent of full professors. The goal of the Heising-Simons Foundation’s Women in Physics and Astronomy grantmaking is to increase the number of women in these fields, both in colleges and in academic and research careers in the United States. Below are some innovative and scalable initiatives that the Foundation supports in order to promote a more inclusive and diverse physics and astronomy braintrust in the United States.
U.S. innovation has long drawn inspiration from a mix of scientific disciplines, academic institutions, research laboratories and industries, yet the scientific enterprise’s workforce lacks diversity of another sort, according to testimony before a House panel on May 9. In remarks delivered to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Shirley Malcom, a senior adviser at the AAAS, said the growing need for a workforce capable of delivering future innovations and meeting the world’s challenges will require “expanding the pool of talent, tapping into the vast well of women, minorities, racial and ethnic, and people with disabilities currently underrepresented in STEM,” the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
With the $500,000 grant from the Sloan Foundation, AAAS and EducationCounsel aim to develop guidance and tools needed by institutions of higher education to maintain and increase their admissions, inclusion and equity programs in ways that work. The updated handbook and related projects will complement other AAAS efforts that support diversity, equity and inclusion, including the SEA Change initiative. With the grant, AAAS and EducationCounsel efforts will be useful to many institutions, including those participating in SEA Change.
Almost 60 societies in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) have formed a consortium to tackle sexual harassment. Announced at the annual meeting of AAAS in Washington, DC, the consortium has begun to collect model policies, law guidance as well as tools to prevent and respond to sexual and gender harassment in STEMM….Shirley Malcom, AAAS senior advisor and director of SEA Change, says that many of the consortium members are working to become SEA Change providers.
Boston University, the University of California, Davis and the University of Massachusetts Lowell are being recognized by AAAS for their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM and furthering positive change in their institution's relevant policies and practice. The STEM Equity Achievement (SEA) Change initiative at AAAS will present the three universities with a Bronze Award on February 13, 2019 at the AAAS Annual Meeting.
An initiative designed to prompt academic institutions to adopt systemic changes to attract, retain and advance underrepresented minority groups, women and people with disabilities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics has gained the attention of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.
University of Warwick students/University of Warwick
AAAS is working with colleges and universities to create institutional systems to improve the outcomes and opportunities for underrepresented and underserved groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The United States is set to trial a version that will also cover race and disability, while other countries have already embraced the voluntary rating system. In addition to gender equality, the US project — called STEM Equity Achievement Change (SEA Change) — will assess inclusiveness with regards to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status and other marginalized groups, says Shirley Malcom, who directs the education and human-resources programmes at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington DC, which will oversee the project. The US effort will assess the experiences of both students and university staff. “We’ve had a lot of intervention programmes and it’s not moving the needle,” says Malcom. “We are exploring this strategy in order to try something that’s better.”